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

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  • 1 Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz baranowski@uni-mainz.de
  • 2 Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz hecht@uni-mainz.de
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Abstract

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.

Contributor Notes

Andreas Baranowski studied psychology at the universities of Klagenfurt and Salamanca. He finished his studies in 2011 with a master’s degree in psychology. Since 2011, he has been a research assistant in the Department of Experimental Psychology at Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, where he earned his PhD in 2016. His research focuses on visual perception and cognitive movie psychology. E-mail: baranowski@uni-mainz.de

Heiko Hecht studied psychology and philosophy at the University of Trier and psychology at the University of Virginia, where he received his PhD. He has held positions at the University of Munich (LMU), NASA’s Ames Research Center, the Center for Interdisciplinary Research at Bielefeld University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Since 2002, he has been professor of experimental psychology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz. His research focuses on still and moving images, intuitive physics, and virtual reality. E-mail: hecht@uni-mainz.de

Projections

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