For media researchers, there is a general feeling that movies and tv shows have an impact on all our lives, but it seems like an impossible thing to measure. In this research study the Lear Center sought to understand which variables influence someone’s likelihood of watching a particular film or television show and whether there was any impact on viewers’ knowledge, attitudes and behavior that could be attributed to that media exposure.
Lear Center researchers developed an online survey methodology that could evaluate the impact of films and their social action campaigns on the general public. The Center looked at three Participant Media films: Food, Inc., Waiting for ‘Superman’ and Contagion. This report is part of a series of impact evaluations of those films.
Our research questions included:
● What do people learn about issues depicted in a film?
● Did a film encourage someone to take action?
● Is there a relationship between emotional engagement with a film and taking action?
● Can we associate enjoyment or appreciation of a film with taking action?
● Is there a relationship between people’s inclination to take action and their beliefs about the potential impact that a film can have on individuals, the media, public opinion and public policy?