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Effects of underscoring on the perception of closure and intensity in film excerpts

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:36 by William F Thompson, Frank A Russo, Don Sinclair
In 3 experiments, we examined the influence of musical underscoring on judgments of closure in filmed events. In Experiment 1, a 12 s animated episode was judged to end with greater closure if underscoring was strongly closed than if it was weakly closed. This influence of music was implicit: When asked to justify their judgments, participants mainly cited only qualities of the visual information. Experiment 2 provided evidence that music can influence perceived closure in longer film episodes, but it also revealed that musical accompaniment does not always influence judgments of closure. Experiment 3 examined the effect of underscoring for 12 brief film excerpts from a commercial motion picture. Ratings of closure were obtained for 3 conditions: underscores only, films without underscores, and films with underscores. Again, underscoring influenced perceived closure in films. However, ratings of closure were more heavily influenced by visual information than by underscoring. Other effects of closure in film music are discussed.

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