One Hundred Years of Photoplay: Hugo Münsterberg's Lasting Contribution to Cognitive Movie Psychology

in Projections

One hundred years ago, in 1916, Hugo Münsterberg was the first psychologist to publish a book on movie psychology, entitled The Photoplay: A Psychological Study. We revisit this visionary text, which was an anticipation of the field of cognitive movie psychology. We use the structure of his book to look into advances that have been made within the field and evaluate whether Münsterberg’s initial claims and predictions have borne out. We comment on the empirical development of film studies regarding perceived depth and movement, attention, memory, emotion, and esthetics of the photoplay. We conclude that the most of Münsterberg’s positions remain surprisingly topical one hundred years later.