Towards an understanding of the role of film and viewer value-alignment in local and global fiction film preferences

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Many film and screenwriting scholars suggest that mainstream fiction film narratives express social values and that viewers prefer films whose (characters’) values align with their own (e.g., Cattrysse, 2010; McInerny, 2013). However, this idea has not been tested empirically yet - a gap the present work seeks to start to fill. To determine the content of film and viewer values, the Schwartz (1992) Theory of Basic Human Values was employed, which defines four higher-order values – such as self-enhancement (e.g., wealth, success according to social standards) and self-transcendence (transcending selfish interests, e.g., justice, caring for close others) – that have been investigated empirically by numerous cross-cultural studies. Respondents of an online questionnaire were shown one of four different types of film loglines, each of which described a protagonist motivated by one of the four higher-order values. Study participants were then asked which values they expected the film as a whole to endorse (for more details on the proposed relationship between character and film values see the study on film value communication presented at SRN 2020/21), to rate their own values, and how interested they were in watching the film. These data were analysed by forming an index of the alignment of the expected film values with participants’ own values, which were then used to predict film interest.
The conference paper will present the findings of this study and discuss their relevance for local and global mainstream fiction film preferences based on the seven world regions of cultural value orientations identified by Schwartz (2006) and on the pan-cultural value preferences identified by Schwartz and Bardi (2001).
PeriodSept 2022
Event titleScreenwriting Research Network - Conference 2022
Event typeConference
LocationVienna, AustriaShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational