Personality in interactive narratives

TitlePersonality in interactive narratives
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Soto-Sanfiel, M. T., L. Aymerich-Franch, and E. Romero
Affiliation (1st Author)Departament de Comunicacio Audiovisual i Publicitat. Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona. Spain.
Section or WGAudience Section
DateFri 28 June
Slot CodeAUDF4b
Slot Code (Keyword)AUDF4b
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleAudience Affects
Submission ID5200

This work explores to what extent users’ personality affect responses to interactive narratives. In particular, it analyses the relationship of personality traits and relevant variables in narrative reception: identification with characters, enjoyment, self-perceived physiological sensations, emotional experience and content. 310 university students answered the NEO-FFI questionnaire of personality. Then, they watched a movie in one of four experimental conditions that combined modality (interactive vs. linear) and content (happy vs. sad ending). Finally, participants measured said variables. Results confirm that factors of personality relate to responses of narrative receivers according to the nature of each on as described by previous literature. Specifically, the study finds that Neuroticism is linked to more intense emotional reactions of fiction receivers. Also, that Extraversion is related to higher narrative enjoyment, identification with characters, and cognitive-emotional empathy. Furthermore, that Openness shows a pattern of results consistent with emotional vividness, curiosity, and exploration which define subjects scoring high on this trait (see Costa & McCrae, 2002). Likewise, that Agreeableness is related to higher enjoyment, more intensity in self-perceived physiological reactions, better movie evaluations and higher identification on its two dimensions. Finally, that Conscientiousness, consistent with its characteristics of high self-control, perfectionism and demand (Costa & McCrae, 2002), is related to less emotions, enjoyment and positive evaluations during the consumption of audiovisual narratives.             Besides, the study finds that interactivity induces different responses depending on personality traits. Interactivity arises higher cognitive-emotional empathy with characters in individuals low in Neuroticism (defined as less anxious, vulnerable and emotional), and more intense emotional reactions in individuals low in Openness. To the light of classic Personality Psychology, it shows that interacting with the narrative is a strong or activating situation that attenuates the potent effects of personality (Mischel, 1977). Linear traditional consumption should be described as a weak situation in which personality traits are manifested as they have been characterized: interactive consumption weakens the effects defined by each personality trait. On the other hand, results partially confirm the existence of different reactions to tragic and happy end depending on personality traits, because they only show differences in the interactive situation. Choosing a happy or a tragic end that has consequences for the characters affect users in different ways, depending on their personality traits. Consonant with previous research (Costa & McCrae, 2002), the study finds that individuals high in Extraversion show greater enjoyment when choosing the happy end. Individuals high in Openness enjoy more the experience and feel more identified with characters when choosing the tragic end whereas individuals scoring low in Openness enjoy more the experience when choosing the happy end. Results challenge research on the effects of interacting with narratives that do not know interpersonal variability. They evidence that the inclusion of interactivity modifies the relationship receivers establish with narratives and confront the traditional relationship author-message-audience. The study shows that using interactive fictions in research sheds light to underlying mechanisms even of the relationship conventional narrative - audience.

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