Amy Coplan's Use Of Emotional Contagion In Film

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When the word ‘Contagion’ comes to mind most people would instantaneously think of a disease that is capable of spreading quickly. Similarly emotional contagion in terms of film and philosophy can be described as the jumping of emotions from screen to the audience which in turn makes the audience feel more emotional as the viewer watches a close up of the character and its emotional expressions. These essays aims to discuss the phenomenon of ‘emotional contagion’, Amy Coplan’s account of emotional contagion, and its implication on peoples experience and understanding of movies and lastly with cited examples of emotional contagion and also aim to establish her analysis to be valid with reason. Philosopher Amy Coplan terms emotional contagion…show more content…
Mark Herman’s, The boy in the Striped Pajamas (2008), where the Nazi father is running to the concentration camp, as his son is there, the audience , too, feels his panic, guilt and despair. This is also true with characters we don’t know. Another good example is Coplan’s take on the opening scene in Steven Spielberg’s, Saving Private Ryan (1998) where the audience is not attached to any character in fact there is no dialogue present and character stories are not known in the opening scene where the soldiers descent to the beach. According to her analysis of this scene, characters express emotions such as fear, anticipation, anxiety and some depressed resignation. Most of the audiences do in fact end up experiencing similar feelings to those of the characters. “This Kind of mimicry is a result of emotional contagion, an automatic and involuntary affective process that can occur when we observe others experiencing emotions”, (Coplan, 2006,…show more content…
However I do have some doubts and in particular would like to discuss emotional contagion in relation to social media. According to a study conducted by The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS), states that emotional states can be transmitted to other individuals thru emotional contagion which in turn leads people to experience the same feelings without being aware that they are feeling these emotions. Moreover, their study findings also indicate that emotional contagion can occur without direct interaction with people and also in the absence of nonverbal cues which reinforces the notion of emotional contagion (Kramer, Guillory and Hancock, 2014). Now I would like to identify these two very different mediums, that is social media and in particular Facebook and also film. Coplan has stressed that emotional contagion cannot be transferred thru literary narratives, however through the study carried out by PNAS suggests to me that this may not be a very accurate statement. In the study researchers selected 689,003 random Facebook users and tampered with their newsfeeds by showing users either predominately positive or negative posts. It is in my opinion that this can be classified as a literary work as a user is essentially reading status updates and not applying certain core foundations of emotional contagion such as mimicking facial expressions. I do not refute Coplans ideas and

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