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Old 06-23-2018, 11:01 AM   #1
WT Sharpe
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Do audiobooks elicit stronger emotional response than movies or TV?

I don't see where anyone has posted this yet, but there is an article at USA Today about a new study that claims audiobooks generate stronger emotions among their listeners than do other forms of media.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/...-tv/721717002/

The study was funded by Audible.

Last edited by WT Sharpe; 06-23-2018 at 11:07 AM.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:07 AM   #2
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I know listening to Kate Burton read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made me grit my teeth.
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Old 06-23-2018, 12:04 PM   #3
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I wonder if the simpler explanation isn't that listening alone takes more effort, hence more engagement. Which is similar to what they're guessing is the reason, but not quite the same.

Also, a quibble:

Quote:
We all know that listening to a story takes the consumer on a journey in which their imagination re-creates the world of the story. The voices of characters, their appearance, the scenery — indeed all of the sensory experience — is reproduced in the listener’s brain. This is fundamentally different than watching a video where the director’s vision of the story has been meticulously created for you.
Except that the imagination of the listener doesn't recreate the voices of the characters; the narrator provides them! That's a given and frankly makes you question a certain shoddiness (or giving the customer what he paid for) in interpreting the data.

That said, I don't doubt the biometrics, but I admit they play to my own prejudices/preferences. I like audiobooks and I don't watch television.
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Old 06-23-2018, 11:25 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
I wonder if the simpler explanation isn't that listening alone takes more effort, hence more engagement. Which is similar to what they're guessing is the reason, but not quite the same.

Also, a quibble:



Except that the imagination of the listener doesn't recreate the voices of the characters; the narrator provides them! That's a given and frankly makes you question a certain shoddiness (or giving the customer what he paid for) in interpreting the data.

That said, I don't doubt the biometrics, but I admit they play to my own prejudices/preferences. I like audiobooks and I don't watch television.
I would also say that the engagement and emotional response depends on the quality of the voice actor doing the narration. I seem to recall that people are more emotionally engaged in auditory, one of the reasons so many people are so connected with music.
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Old 06-24-2018, 09:54 AM   #5
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I'm puzzled as to why it matters. I like audiobooks for a variety of reasons. I like movies and TV shows too. I don't know what my emotional response is to different media, nor do I care.
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Old 06-24-2018, 10:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
I'm puzzled as to why it matters. I like audiobooks for a variety of reasons. I like movies and TV shows too. I don't know what my emotional response is to different media, nor do I care.
That's reasonable. I suppose it matters to Audible. What case do you think they're making here? Audiobibliophiles get blasted by the "text only" crowd as being lazy and less legitimate; perhaps Audible is trying to strike back by saying, "Well, at least we're better than tv! So neener, neener, neener."
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by issybird View Post
That's reasonable. I suppose it matters to Audible. What case do you think they're making here? Audiobibliophiles get blasted by the "text only" crowd as being lazy and less legitimate; perhaps Audible is trying to strike back by saying, "Well, at least we're better than tv! So neener, neener, neener."
The article says:
Quote:
According to Devlin, “though participants surveyed assumed they were less engaged, the biometric sensors indicate otherwise. ... It seems as though the heart really does tell the story.”
So a person thinks the video version is more engaging, but science says objectively it's not. How is this meaningful to me? I'm generally all for objectivity, but consuming media for pleasure is subjective, and if I say I think I'm more engaged by video, who is some researcher to say I'm not?

Anyway, the study apparently used isolated scenes for comparisons--that does a disservice to both the book and the video. And a more legitimate comparison would be to see the differences between reading on one's own and being read to. Movies are so vastly different that a comparison seems meaningless.

If science wants to examine which medium is usually better for learning or retention of material, fine, have it at, although even there I'm sure there are widely different learning styles.

The study seems silly.
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Old 06-24-2018, 12:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
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I'm puzzled as to why it matters. I like audiobooks for a variety of reasons. I like movies and TV shows too. I don't know what my emotional response is to different media, nor do I care.
There are a lot of studies about things that don't really matter in the real world. It's an article about audiobooks and this is a forum about audiobooks, so certainly I think it's appropriate to post and discuss it here.

I'm a bit of a movie buff. There are certain movies that never fail to engage me emotionally. Music tends to engage me on an emotional level as well. I tend to notice when music is used to enhance the reaction in a movie. There aren't a lot of audiobooks what cause me to react at that level. Some of that may be that I mostly listen to audiobooks where I have already read the book, so I'm already familiar with what's going to happen.
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Old 06-24-2018, 02:15 PM   #9
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Quote:
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There are a lot of studies about things that don't really matter in the real world. It's an article about audiobooks and this is a forum about audiobooks, so certainly I think it's appropriate to post and discuss it here.

I'm a bit of a movie buff. There are certain movies that never fail to engage me emotionally. Music tends to engage me on an emotional level as well. I tend to notice when music is used to enhance the reaction in a movie. There aren't a lot of audiobooks what cause me to react at that level. Some of that may be that I mostly listen to audiobooks where I have already read the book, so I'm already familiar with what's going to happen.
I didn't say it shouldn't be discussed, but it's a dumb study. I am scornful of researchers telling people that their scientific methods are more accurate than what people believe about their own emotions.
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Old 06-24-2018, 08:53 PM   #10
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I didn't say it shouldn't be discussed, but it's a dumb study. I am scornful of researchers telling people that their scientific methods are more accurate than what people believe about their own emotions.
Actually, self reported responses are often not accurate. People self censor their reactions and thoughts a lot. I was impressed that the study used bio-metrics rather than self reported.

I do think that how people respond and what they respond to can vary quite a bit. Some people are more auditory oriented, others are more visually oriented. I suspect that can matter quite a bit. For that matter, I wouldn't be shocked if there is quite a bit of variance depending on if you were read to as a small child and how good of a story teller your parent was. That's the problem with such studies, it's impossible to control for all the variables when it comes to people.
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Old 06-24-2018, 10:31 PM   #11
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Actually, self reported responses are often not accurate. People self censor their reactions and thoughts a lot. I was impressed that the study used bio-metrics rather than self reported.

I do think that how people respond and what they respond to can vary quite a bit. Some people are more auditory oriented, others are more visually oriented. I suspect that can matter quite a bit. For that matter, I wouldn't be shocked if there is quite a bit of variance depending on if you were read to as a small child and how good of a story teller your parent was. That's the problem with such studies, it's impossible to control for all the variables when it comes to people.
Self-reported behavior is often inaccurate. Opinion surveys are often inaccurate because of various possible biases. But asking a person which of two mundane things, audiobook or movie, is more engaging--I don't think there's any reason for a person not to be honest.

In any case, I am highly skeptical that emotions can be measured by physical reactions.
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Old 06-25-2018, 05:53 AM   #12
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Self-reported behavior is often inaccurate. Opinion surveys are often inaccurate because of various possible biases. But asking a person which of two mundane things, audiobook or movie, is more engaging--I don't think there's any reason for a person not to be honest.

In any case, I am highly skeptical that emotions can be measured by physical reactions.
Using physical reactions to measure emotions has a long history. It's the basis of things like lie detectors. When people are sad, they cry. When they are happy, they laugh or smile. When they are frightened, their heart speeds up. When they are angry, they frown or become red faced. The blush is an involuntary physical reaction to embarrassment. While I'm sure that not everyone's physical reactions are precisely the same for a given emotion and it's certainly possible to repress physical reactions, being able to do so is not very common.
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Old 06-25-2018, 09:59 AM   #13
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Using physical reactions to measure emotions has a long history. It's the basis of things like lie detectors. When people are sad, they cry. When they are happy, they laugh or smile. When they are frightened, their heart speeds up. When they are angry, they frown or become red faced. The blush is an involuntary physical reaction to embarrassment. While I'm sure that not everyone's physical reactions are precisely the same for a given emotion and it's certainly possible to repress physical reactions, being able to do so is not very common.
And there's a reason that lie detector results are not admissible in court.

Anyway, this is getting quite far afield from the study. If I say I'm more emotionally engaged by a movie, some scientist isn't going to convince me I'm not by showing me my heart rate. I am the judge of my own emotional reaction.
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Old 06-25-2018, 02:47 PM   #14
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I think it's the difference between movies/TV and a good book. A book can describe scenery; in a movie, it's up to you to look at it or not. Actually, in a print book, I often skip over or just skim the scenery desriptions. An audiobook forces me to go through the description at the slower pace of voice, rather than my eyes- which also prohibits me from skipping or skimming.

A book can describe what the character is feeling; movies have a harder time of that. A book can have much more depth. A book can be more emotionally engaging than movies/TV.

But we (us bookworms here) all *knew* that!
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Old 06-29-2018, 08:06 PM   #15
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What ho everybody, this is my first post on these boards. I have lurked in the shadows until now, much like one of those figures in a Conan Doyle.

As to this narration vs tv topic, I think I would have to take a similar angle as badgoodDeb. Whilst a cunning twist of lighting and a sinister strain of violins can give us all the willies when Sally has is walking through a dark alley, the descriptions read by a narrator can really skewer the bladder when it comes to emotion.

If Sally walks down a dark alley where the walls clasp around her like a murderers glove and every shadow stalks each clicking step, creeping; creeping; creeping. Then I think we are much more likely to clamber out of bed and switch the lights on for a few minutes.

A great film, (and I do like them), is but the sketching of a directors best imaginings. An audio narration creates sketches from ones own mind where your personal fears or loves or whatever’s, provide the lighting and shade peculiar to your own world.

Tally ho.
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