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Psychiatr Danub. 2013 Jun;25(2):158-62.

Who identifies with suicidal film characters? Determinants of identification with suicidal protagonists of drama films.

Author information

  • 1Department of General Practice and Family Medicine, Center for Public Health, Medical University of Vienna, Kinderspitalgasse 15, A-1090 Vienna, Austria. benedikt.till@meduniwien.ac.at

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Identification with a media character is an influential factor for the effects of a media product on the recipient, but still very little is known about this cognitive process. This study investigated to what extent identification of a recipient with the suicidal protagonist of a film drama is influenced by the similarity between them in terms of sex, age, and education as well as by the viewer's empathy and suicidality.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS:

Sixty adults were assigned randomly to one of two film groups. Both groups watched a drama that concluded with the tragic suicide of the protagonist. Identification, empathy, suicidality, as well as socio-demographic data were measured by questionnaires that were applied before and after the movie screening.

RESULTS:

Results indicated that identification was not associated with socio-demographic similarity or the viewer's suicidality. However, the greater the subjects' empathy was, the more they identified with the protagonist in one of the two films.

CONCLUSIONS:

This investigation provides evidence that challenges the common assumption that identification with a film character is automatically generated when viewer and protagonist are similar in terms of sex, age, education or attitude.

PMID:
23793280
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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