As I write this, I’m in a psychology lab running participants for an experiment in my PhD dissertation. But you know, sometimes, it’s the findings that you stumble across while doing research that are just as interesting as the results you’re actively seeking out.
For example, when first setting up the study, I had to go through horror movies in slow motion, frame by frame, to find the imagery I needed. After getting over the “really? they’re making me a doctor for watching movies?” feeling, I observed the following facts:
- There are not many moments in a horror movie with nothing scary going on. Especially in modern horror, every frame is saturated with disturbing oooh-look-how-creepy-this-is imagery. I think this has the ironic effect of making the movie as a whole less effective. Scares are relative to calm; without calm there are no scares.
- Most of what we see on film is blurry. Our brains put it together just fine to make it seem like we’re watching clear, continuous motion, but if you freeze at any given moment, it’s likely to be a smeared mess of colour.
- If you pause a movie at a random point, there is a 99% chance that it will depict two people standing around talking. This is what most entertains us. Overheard conversations.
Now people are sitting beside me, gasping at the imagery I’m paying them to click and type in response to, and I’m learning something else:
- People vary a lot in how loud they type and how loud they click. Give two people the same task on the same keyboard, and some will be completely silent, while others will sound like they gave up and threw the keyboard down a flight of stairs. Even mice, with their limited range of activities, can sound different depending on whose fingers are fondling them. Try it right now…you can make two different sounds; a simple click from applying gentle pressure, or if you pull back and unleash your full finger strength, a sort of click-thunk sound. A set of moving mice can be an infinitely varied cacophony, depending on the mousers’ differing lift/drag ratios.
I think I’ll drop my current project and start studying office noises instead.