This chapter reported on two studies of the relationships of The Big Five personality traits with movie-watching motives and films preferences. Of greatest interest in the studies was the extent to which Big Five personality traits and uses of film motives contributed to the prediction of individuals’ preferences for different genres of film. The results have important implications for the understanding of the psychology of film preferences.
In accordance to theoretical expectations, the results of studies 2 and 3 offer interesting insights into personality and film preferences. The studies provided support that the Big Five personality dimensions and the uses of film dimensions can put forth an influence on consumer preferences for specific films. Further findings from this study provide insight into the relationship(s) between the personality characteristics and movie-watching motives. These results are discussed below.
For study 2, just under half of the hypotheses of (8 out of 17) were supported. A positive significant association was found between Extraversion and Affiliation Use of Film, which falls in line with the notion that this interpersonal use of film is expected to be more common in individuals who are high in Extraversion. Although research has yet to examine the Big Five personality correlates of Nostalgia Use of Film, a significant negative association was found between Extraversion and Nostalgia Use of Film. This result could fall in line with the proposal that individuals high in Extraversion scores have an inclination to experience positive affect, thus are more likely to gravitate towards movies that improve or maintain their good moods (Knobloch & Zillmann, 2002). Furthermore, this should be reflected in their higher levels of the appreciation for uplifting, fun-evoking movies, as opposed to emotionally intense movies. Contrary to the hypothesis, a significant relationship between Extraversion and Hedonistic Seeking Use of Film was not found.
Significant relationships were found between Agreeableness and Affiliation Use of Film, Hedonistic Use of Film, Aggressive Use of Film and Sensation Seeking Use of Film. As predicted, Affiliation Use of Film was positively associated with individuals who were higher in Agreeableness scores. This supports the idea that Agreeable individuals like to watch movies in the company of others. Hence, the results imply that individuals high in Agreeableness are likely to display a preference for the consumption of “uplifting” movies (Kerrigan, 2010), allowing them to maintain positive emotions via the consumption of fun, happy, and pleasurable movies. As predicted, a negative association was found between Agreeableness (which is a negative marker of trait aggression) and Aggressive Use of Film. Counter to expectations, a significant negative association was found between Agreeableness and Sensation Seeking Use of Film. Thus, further research is necessary to explain this finding. Additionally, a link between Agreeableness and Hedonistic Use of Film was not established.
In line with the hypothesis, a negative association was found between Conscientiousness and Aggressive Use of Film. This personality trait is another negative marker of trait aggression, and the data reveals significant correspondence with the notion that individuals high in Conscientiousness scores are less inclined to watch movies to release aggression. Conscientiousness was found to be negatively related to Sensation Seeking Use of Film and Boredom Avoidance Use of Film. These findings were not consistent with theoretical expectations, so further investigation into these patterns of results must be conducted in future study.
It was hypothesised that Neuroticism would be positively associated with Nostalgia Use of Film, Catharsis Use of Film and Escapism Use of Film. Nonetheless, these associations failed to emerge for the Neuroticism personality type. Thus, these null effects suggest that Neuroticism and its relationship to movie motives remains to be established, and further investigation is therefore encouraged. As predicted, Openness was positively related to Sensation Seeking Use of Film and Artistic Use of Film. It was correct to predict that individuals high in Openness have the desire to experience intense and arousing emotions and to consume movies for aesthetic appreciation. Negative associations were also found for Hedonistic Use of Film and Nostalgia Use of Film. These findings do not fall in line with the hypotheses, so it is important to undertake an additional study into the relationship between the Big Five personality traits and film uses. Furthermore, the investigation failed to find a significant relationship between Openness and Escapism Use of Film, Information Seeking Use of Film and Boredom Avoidance Use of Film.
The results of study 3 support a number of the hypotheses, but also raise several questions deserving of further research. Nonetheless, more promising results were revealed in Study 3, whereby the majority of the hypotheses (15 out of 20) were supported. In the first instance, the results showed that Openness was the main significant predictor for preferences for Arty films. These findings fall in line with those of Palmgreen et al (1985), whereby individuals high on Openness watch films in order to feel creatively empowered and have an “artistic experience”. As predicted, Escapism Use of Film was a significant predictor for Arty film genre. Watching films provides an enjoyable escape mechanism (Lehman et al, 1927), and most importantly, movies in general enable people to abandon the humdrums of everyday life (Hoolbrook & Hirschman, 1982).
Surprisingly, Aggressive Use of Film explained some portion of the variance (although very small). One would expect that people who watch films to release aggression are more likely to watch violent movies. Thus, the Aggressive Use of Film motive and its positive relationship with preference for Arty films raises interesting questions.
Sensation Seeking Use of Film was the main significant predictor for Horror genre film preference. In line with previous research (Hirschman, 1987), sensual/sensory 119 arousal is characterised mainly by preferences for violent, sexual or exciting content, supporting the notion that people who seek stimulation would consume exciting films, such as Horror movies.
The two other variables that accounted for a portion of the variance were Affiliation Use of Film and Boredom Avoidance Use of Film. The results imply that Horror movies are enjoyed in the company of others, whilst the Boredom Avoidance motive suggests that people watch Horror movies for the purpose of passing time (Potts et al, 1996). Boredom avoidance is also linked to Sensation Seeking Use of film, which has been found to relate to preference for Horror movies.
Hedonistic Use of Film was revealed as explaining the largest portion of the variance for the prediction of Mainstream genre film preference. This supports the notion that individuals who watch a movie with the motive of seeking pleasure will have an appetite for the consumption of “uplifting” movies (Kerrigan, 2010). Thus, mainstream films should propel individuals to maintain positive emotions via the context of the themes i.e. fun, happy and “feel-good”.
Another significant predictor for preference for Mainstream films was Agreeableness. Although research on Agreeableness and its relationship with film preferences lacks empirical evidence, one would assume that Agreeable individuals (who are often described as altruistic and straightforward) would perhaps be expected to watch films more for hedonic purposes, as they are generally more likely to experience positive emotions. Hence, “feel-good” Mainstream movies may best fill this criterion.
Although modest predictors, it was surprising to see that Aggressive Use of Film and Openness were correlated with preference for Mainstream movies. One would not usually assume that people who have the motive to release aggression will choose to consume a Mainstream movie. Furthermore, Open individuals are more likely to watch a film for the purpose of aesthetic appreciation, something that Mainstream films do not usually offer. Thus, these results raise a number of questions deserving of further research.
Finally, in regards to romantic compatibility, all of the hypotheses were supported, offering valuable insight into romantic compatibility and its role in film preferences. The intra-correlations for Arty, Horror and Mainstream films were all significant, which reinforces the proposition that individuals in relationships share similar ideas and beliefs (Byrne & Nelson, 1965a).
An important research question posed by this study was the extent to which the Big Five personality traits and the uses of film dimensions are related to film preferences. The results indicated that overall, when both measures are considered, several variables account for the role in predicting film preferences. For the Arty film genre, the variables of Openness, Escapism Use of Film and Aggressive Use of Film accounted for 13.3% of the variance. For the Horror genre of film, Sensation Seeking Use of Film, Affiliation Use of Film and Boredom Avoidance Use of Film accounted for 22% of the variance. Finally, for the Mainstream genre of film, Hedonistic Use of Film, Agreeableness, Aggressive Use of Film, Openness, Catharsis Use of Film and Escapism Use of Film accounted for 32% of the variance. Overall, this study indicates that both the Big Five personality measure and the Use of Film Inventory can, to some degree, predict consumer choice in movies. However, it should also be noted that although these variables are an important factor in predicting film preferences, other factors must be essential.