[VIDEO PLAYBACK] - Oof, that doesn't smell like cat.
- Las Vegas Police. Control 12 [INAUDIBLE], possible 419. Requesting back-up and CSI to our location. Your turn.
- Copy that. We'll notify CSI needed to back-up 24.
- What? You getting soft, man? I don't think we're getting in this place.
- Ah, how bad could it be?
- Hey, watch your--
So how do you want to do this?
- Well, I'd say hug the walls, if I could see them. [INAUDIBLE] trails seem to be our only option, unless you're into dumpster diving.
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: OK. Hi. Welcome to Novel or New York Times-- The Psychology of Real and Media Realism. Welcome to Cornell. And I hope you've been enjoying yourself so far. Sorry for the technical glitches at the beginning here.
Now, those of you who carefully examined the title of my talk might be thinking that the title's a little peculiar. Is he just a bad writer, or does he really mean to say that this is about the psychology of making judgments about what's real and the realism of the media? And one question you might have is, well, isn't real real? And let's explore that by taking a look at something like a dictionary definition of realism.
Now, psychologists are interested in how people actually perceive things, so I've modified this dictionary definition just a little bit. And the definition that we might start with is that realism is the perception that corresponds to what actually exists and happens in real life. Does that sound like a pretty reasonable definition of realism? You know I'm going a fool you, right?
OK. So one test is whether we can make realism judgments using this definition and whether we can make the kinds of realism judgments that we seem to make every day. So let me ask you a question. Are Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort real?
OK, let's go back to our definition-- based on the previous definition that says that realism is the correspondence to what actually exists and happens in real life. So by that definition, are Harry and Voldy, I don't know, how many of you think they're real? OK. So most of you think that based on the previous definition, given these choices, the answer is pretty clearly no.
How many of you think that there's something we're missing here in our definition of realism? OK. Some of you are raising your hands, and some of you are thinking about it.
Well, why do we watch movies like Harry Potter and talk about Harry and Voldemort as if they were real? In fact, you might even have friends that don't want to watch the movie because they don't think it's realistic or others who get very much involved in that movie and think it's very realistic. So what are we missing here?
Well, we could ask this question in a little bit different way, OK? We could ask the question, if they existed, would Harry and Voldemort act this way? OK? So if I ask the question this way, that's a little bit different judgment, isn't it? So how many of you would now say, pretty much, yes, that if they existed, they would act this way? OK. All right, so that's substantially more of you.
Now, how many of you are feeling that yes and no aren't quite right for this judgment? Yeah, there's some feeling out there that this may not quite be the right way to ask this question. So maybe we could ask the question in a somewhat different way.
We could ask it about Harry and Voldemort, but I'm getting a little tired of them. So let's ask it about Homer and Langley. And we could ask the question in a number of ways. One way I could ask the question is, if the events in Homer & Langley happened, they would happen this way.
But I'm going to ask it a little bit differently this time. I'm going to ask you if you strongly agree, agree, agree somewhat, disagree somewhat, or disagree. So how many of you would strongly agree with that statement? Everybody's got to answer now.
How many of you would strongly agree? I see a few hands. How many of you would agree? OK. How many of you would agree somewhat? OK. And how about disagree somewhat? OK. And disagree? OK.
So most of you thought that the events in Homer & Langley, if they had happened-- and we'll talk more about the if they had happened because some of them did and some of them didn't-- think that, by this standard, the realism is somewhere in the middle there.
So what's different about this judgment? Well, let's talk about what does this tell us about how people think about the realism of a story. For one thing, it implies that realism is multidimensional. What do we mean by that? There's more than one aspect of a story that contributes to our perception that it's realistic. And we'll talk in a little while about what some of those dimensions might be.
Secondly, it's a variable. It's a variable in a number of ways. One, it's a variable in that some of you made different judgments about it. It's also a variable in that different characters in Homer & Langley might get different judgments of how real or unreal they are.
In fact, probably when you're reading Homer & Langley or watching a television program or consuming any kind of media, even the news, and we'll talk about that in a little bit, you're probably unconsciously-- and by unconsciously I just mean that this is a process that is so automatic that you really aren't even aware of doing it. Unconscious, in this case, is not bad. It just means that you do it so well that you don't have to think about it, OK? So it's a variable.
And the other thing is that realism doesn't have to be tightly connected to what happens in the real world. That in fact, we can make realism judgments about a wide variety of things. Really, any kind of story you can make and probably do make realism judgments about it. So we'll talk about that in just a little bit, a little while.
One thing that's interesting here is that before I brought it up, you went about making these judgments without really thinking about it. These are fundamental judgments that we make all the time, continuously, whenever we are processing a story. We really can't understand stories without making these kinds of realism judgments.
And in general, we don't really think about how complicated those judgments are. If you ask the average person on the street, they will probably give a definition of realism that is somewhat like the definition that we started out with. In fact, if you asked scholars in communication in, oh, say the late '70s to define what realism is, they, in fact, would have given a definition that is something like what we started out with.
OK, let me stop for a minute and say who I am and what I do. My name is Mike Shapiro, and I'm an associate-- you see the resemblance? My sister did a much thinner one, but I thought I ought to be realistic here. I'm an associate professor in the Department of Communication here at Cornell. I teach Communication 4220, the Psychology of Entertainment Media, which I will welcome you into when you are a junior or a senior.
And I study the mental processing of stories, including news, health messages, entertainment. Pretty much everything has stories these days. And I'm not going to say there aren't some differences between news stories and health messages and a variety of other kinds of stories, but in fact, they also have a great deal in common.
Now, my real job is to challenge how you think about communication. I often tell students if I don't change how they think about communication, then either I'm not doing my job or they're not listening. Either is possible, I suppose.
OK. So let's take a look at something that is supposed to be-- well, this is a reality show.
- How does anybody let it get this bad?
- We are collectors. We are not hoarders.
- It kills me that my grandson does not have a bed.
- It's the worst house I've ever been in.
- Take some responsibility for your choices.
- The law is the law, and we have to report this.
- My house sucks. It's embarrassing. It's shameful. It's ridiculous. It's irrational, illogical. I know if I came into a house like this, I would feel a moral obligation to turn somebody in.
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: OK. Yeah, what can I say? But there's a lot of questions we can ask about this representation and about the representation of these people. One of them is, how realistic are they? Now, supposedly these were real people, and these are their real houses, and we pointed a camera at them.
But in fact, I suspect most of you are thinking that, well, you know, probably life isn't really this dramatic, for one thing, that it is purposely edited to catch certain kinds of moments. It's purposely set up to make it as dramatic as possible, and they picked the people who could be articulate and appear well on television and so forth.
So let's talk about how we can make realism judgments about everything from Harry Potter to the news. And let's start by talking about what I think is one of the keys to talking about realism, and that's imagination.
Now, we usually think of imagination as the opposite of real. I'm going to maintain that our ability to imagine is, in fact, fundamental to our ability to make the kinds of realism judgments that I'm talking about and the kinds of realism judgments that we make all the time every day about pretty much any kind of media that we're going to watch.
So what do I mean by that? OK. We've already talked about the traditional thinking about realism as a comparison to the world, as maybe a reflection, smaller, than the world. But let's consider some common judgments we might make that would question that.
OK. So if that's how we make realism judgments, how do we make realism judgments about a drama on prison life? How many of you have been in prison? Ah, there's some out there, I know. They're just not confessing.
OK. A soap opera about being a hostage in Central America. Any of you have experience with that? A comedy about being on a quiz show. Now, it's possible some of you might have been on a quiz show, and probably a lot of you watch Jeopardy or other kinds of quiz shows.
How about a novelization of real events? Well, you just read one, supposedly. I'm not going to ask you how many actually read it. Aha, a titter goes through the crowd.
How about science fiction and fantasy? How do we make-- do we make realism judgments about science fiction and fantasy? Do some of your friends say, oh, I don't watch old Star Trek because that's so unrealistic? I mean, Captain Kirk is kind of laughable, isn't he? On the other hand, we probably wouldn't watch a lot of science fiction, those of us who do, if it didn't seem realistic to us in some way.
How about an online multiplayer environment? How many of you do those kinds of games? There's a few out there, OK. We'll talk a little bit more about those in a little while.
One of the things about these is that we make these judgments-- there's evidence that we make these judgments relatively automatically. In fact, you don't really think about it. And the fact that you really haven't thought about the fact that you're making these judgments about all these kinds of things is kind of evidence of that. But we have other evidence of that as well.
Most of us have only indirect experience with something like prison life, the experience of being a hostage, or the experience of being on a quiz show. Even more problematic is judging the realism stories about things that don't even exist, probably can't exist. And I suspect that if I ask you to tell me which is more realistic, Harry Potter or Twilight-- interesting, interesting. I heard both out there.
OK. Both anecdotal evidence and research indicate, in fact, that we do make realism judgments about those things, as you just heard from yourselves. The question is, how do we do it? Well, let's look at Homer and his family and see how that might work. I have to say, in this case, a little bit different Homer.
- I can't believe the crazy house would throw out all these forks.
- Marge, sweetie, do you know how low, low prices are insane? But sometimes people can be too.
- What are you talking about?
- Marge, you saved me. Now I want to save you.
- I'm not a hoarder. Do the Yankees hoard pennants? Does Marrakesh hoard intrigue?
- Marge, Marge, what can one person honestly do with-- [INAUDIBLE] filled-in mini-golf scoresheets, [INAUDIBLE] European ketchup [INAUDIBLE], rolls of "I voted" stickers, argh, [INAUDIBLE]. Styrofoam shaped like old computers, oohh. [INAUDIBLE] Oh, lookie, lookie, oh.
- Don't look back, Marge, don't look back. Let's just leave the crazy woman alone in our house. We've got something more important to attend to.
- We'll deal with all that later.
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: OK, so let me ask you a question. I can imagine Homer-- let's make it just Homer-- acting this way. How many of you strongly agree? How many of you agree? How many of you agree somewhat? OK. Anybody disagree? OK. Anybody disagree a lot? A few of you.
So most of you think that that's a pretty realistic depiction of Homer Simpson. Are you sitting there a little bit uncomfortable that just you made a realism judgment about a yellow cartoon character? But you do, don't you? It seems peculiar, but you do that kind of thing all the time. And if Homer acted in a way that you wouldn't expect Homer to act, for example, smart, that wouldn't seem realistic to you, would it?
On the other hand, if I had asked you to judge Marge, well, you know, Marge does a lot of things. But if Marge acted smart, we probably would find that more realistic. Sometimes I've used the example of SpongeBob, you know, lives in a pineapple under the sea, SpongeBob. Anyway, OK. Forgot strongly disagree.
Let's go on. So I'm talking about imagination. And we tend to think of fantasy and imagination as something immature or representing a deficit in psychological or emotional life. In fact, Sigmund Freud in 1908 said, "a happy person never phantasizes, only an unsatisfied one." Kind of, and I think, to a certain extent, our attitude toward fantasy, toward adult fantasy, sometimes hasn't changed very much.
But perhaps Freud should have stuck to his cigars. He was clearly wrong on this one. In fact, the evidence is that even in one of Freud's favorite areas, sex-- by the way, they did know about sex in 1908-- in reality, a rich fantasy life seems to be a good thing.
Now, the other thing is children. We usually tend to think of children as highly imaginative. But I'm going to maintain that, in some ways, children have a fantasy deficit. Let's take a look at what I mean by that.
Somebody's pants are going to have to be changed.
OK. This is where dad says, mom? Anyway, small children are frightened by things that are scary but unreal. Now, here's a question. Is that because their imaginations are more or less active than adults? The answer, at least in part, is that, in fact, it's because there's something they can't imagine.
Children are perceptually dependent. Very young children pretty much-- and it's complicated-- but pretty much what looks real to them is real. That's why children get frightened of things that-- young children get frightened of things that older children don't. Because if it looks scary, then it is scary. An older child knows that it might not be real.
Now, I pretty much guarantee you that even if this had been a giant rabbit suit-- I suspect a lot of you have seen little children. The big giant rabbit comes up to the little kid, and the kid just pretty much has the same reaction, OK? It is scared, yeah. OK. So he doesn't have the experience. What is he not imagining? He's not imagining that this is a costume and that there's just a man inside that costume, OK, which adults know.
Now, Joanne Cantor has been studying what scares people in the media for, oh, at least going back to the '70s. So she's been doing this for quite a while, and she points out there are three general-- three generalizations that are relevant here about what happens as children mature.
One is that children go from perceptually dependent to increasingly conceptual. So it's not that the perceptual doesn't matter, but increasingly they're able to see the conceptual behind the perceptual. There are more responses to real dangers and fewer responses to fantastic dangers, and there's more response to abstract concepts.
So one of the studies that Cantor did, along with Cindy Hoffner, whose name was escaping me for a second there. They showed kids. And they had a couple of groups of kids, very young children, and a little bit older children. They showed them a series of pictures, and this is from that series of pictures. And for example, with this picture, what you typically find is that the woman over here-- we have a good pointer.
This woman, the youngest children typically see her as nicer than this woman over here. On the other hand, as children get older, increasingly they say, this is the nice woman. Why? Well, for the-- whoops. See if we can get that to go back. Because the first woman looks kind of grandmotherly, kind of nice. The other woman looks like a witch. How else can I say this?
As children get older, they start to recognize that what matters here is kind of what's inside, not necessarily how the person looks, but what they're doing. And this woman is clearly being nicer than the other one. So you see more and more, as children get older, they pick the other woman as nicer.
Now another study that Cantor and her colleagues did was she looked at which children were frightened by a TV movie called The Day After. You can probably turn this volume down a little, if he's back there. OK. By a TV movie called The Day After. Now, this movie-- you're too young to remember, but I see a couple of older folks in the audience nodding and remembering.
In the early '80s, this was a made-for-TV movie that kind of became a national event. And it was a movie about the aftermath of a nuclear war. And one question families had was should their children watch. Let's take a look at a small segment of the movie and then we'll talk about what they found.
- Any more news?
- They just hit one of our ships in the Persian Gulf.
- Who's they?
- The Russians. Who do you think? But we hit them back, one of their ships.
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: I should mention that this is near an airport.
- I gotta go.
- Standby to copy the message.
- Standby. [INAUDIBLE] codes inserted.
- Enable switch,enable.
- It's enabled.
- Coordinate. Enable command.
- Yes, this is [INAUDIBLE]. All call enabled. Thank you.
- Key turn on my mark.
- Standing by.
- 5, 4--
- What's going on?
- Those are Minuteman missiles. They're on their way to Russia. They take about 30 minutes to reach their target.
- So do theirs, right?
- OK. Calm down impacting points. I want to confirm. Is this an exercise? Roger copy. This is not an exercise.
- Roger, understand. Major Reinhart, we have a massive attack against the US net at this time. ICBMs. Numerous ICBMs. Roger, understand. Over 300 missiles inbound now.
[AIR RAID SIRENS]
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: OK. Now, the question is was it the young children who were most frightened or the older children? You are learning, grasshoppers. What Cantor found is that the young children weren't as frightened as the older children, or the teens or adults. Why? Because of perceptual dependence. There's not that much here that to a younger child looks scary.
In order to be frightened by this, you have to understand why these people would be-- why the situation is about as scary as situations can get. The moment when they see the Minuteman missiles launching, it's a half an hour for them to reach their target, and a half an hour for their missiles to reach us. Can you get any scarier than that? I mean, in the real world I guess?
OK. So we see that there's a certain amount of imagination that's required in order to be frightened by this. So imagining reality is a mature judgment. Young children focus on the perceptual aspects of what they see. As children mature, imagination about conceptual and hidden characteristics become more important in their judgments. I have the Hulk here because one of the things that can scare little kids is the Hulk's transformation, just scares the crap out of them.
OK. Let's look at another aspect of this. Imagination allows us to make reasonable, although perhaps imperfect, judgments about the realism of a variety of stories. So for example, let's assume that David Jahn-- his friends call him DJ-- has never experienced a drug deal. He's never been involved with illegal drugs. How does he judge the realism of the media depiction of a drug deal?
Well, how does he do that? In some ways-- how many of you have ever seen, like, a real drug deal on TV? I know. I'm not going to ask you if you've seen a real drug deal in real life. How many of you have seen one, like on the news? OK. And I assume all of you have seen one in television entertainment. The drug deals in real life look kind of sad. And maybe somebody gets thrown around and shouted at, but they're kind of boring. In a lot of ways, the ones on TV are a lot more exciting, probably more fun, in some ways more realistic.
But anyway, what little you know about drug deals, you take that and you compare your imagination of what it would be like to the media depiction. And his imagination is based on indirect experience, knowledge of the physical and social world, knowledge of the media world, inference making, and construction of central tendencies.
Now, one of the things we can talk about is that adults think about realism in multiple dimensions. Alice hall is a professor at the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and she's come up with six dimensions of realism for adults. One is plausibility-- that is, it could happen in real life. One is typicality representativeness, that this is typical or representative of people or events. Factuality-- it actually did happen. Involvement, the ability to relate to media characters and their emotions. Narrative consistency-- it's consistent within its own assumptions. And perceptual persuasiveness, looks and sounds realistic.
Now, when you talk to people the two that they most often mention are factuality-- whether or not it actually happened. And then a lot of things focus on perceptual persuasiveness. I've been telling people who develop computer games for a long time that they spend much too much time developing that aspect of the realism of computer games and don't think about these others nearly as much, although some do.
OK. So we have those six dimensions. So let's take a look and apply them to some real media. Let's try Homer and Langley. Homer and Langley Collier existed. Some of the story in the book is more or less correct-- the hoarding, Homer's blindness, Langley's inventiveness, although there's some deviation. So there's actually some factuality there, although there's lots of things in there that aren't factual. Many historical events in the novel actually happened, but some of them didn't.
So it's narratively consistent. All these characters that show up that never really existed in Homer and Langley's life are realistic and plausible and narratively consistent. Homer's inner life is pure speculation, but, in fact, is probably what makes the novel the most realistic. Because you get some understanding and you get some involvement with Homer that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
Let's try pure science fiction, like The Matrix. Never happened. So in that sense, it's completely implausible and not factual. It may be involving or emotionally realistic, and it may make sense within its own assumptions. So it has narrative consistency, and it may in fact look very realistic. So we can see that different dimensions apply to different kinds of things, and that we can judge things as realistic by using these dimensions in different ways.
OK Now, there's another aspect to the realism typicality judgments. And that is that there is a distinction between absolute realism, that this is typical of the everyday world, and this imaginative realism we were talking about. If this were to happen no matter how fantastic, it would happen this way. So we can make that distinction.
Relative realism also allows measuring self-other differences in realism judgments. And it turns out that these are kind of fun. So you can ask the question if it were to happen to me, it would happen this way. Or if this were to happen to the typical person, if it would happen this way. And in fact, people almost always rate relative realism for other people as greater than realism for the self. It's a very large and very robust effect. And it happens with advertising, news, fictional stories, movies, maybe not with-- I can't think of the word-- with things that are intended to be good. So positive kinds of messages. For example, positive health messages.
One interesting thing is that people seem to be more flexible about realism judgments about other people. And that actually makes sense, that if you're reading a story about somebody else, you probably have a wider range of things that you think, well, it may not be plausible for me, but it could be plausible for somebody else.
Some other questions raised by Homer and Langley. We can ask why write fiction about real people and real events. And we can suggest ways that fiction might be more real than reality. By the way, writing fiction about real people and real events is nothing new. There's some Egyptian historical literature that's 4,000 years old. So are there ways in which fiction can represent reality better than nonfiction? Well, one of the things that-- let me ask you a question. Go back for a second.
OK. Think of people's private moments. Those things that happened behind closed doors. You all have them, right? Of course. Now think about your friends and your family. OK. Now think about your favorite TV or movie characters. Which of those do you know more about what goes on behind closed doors? OK. Which of those do you know more about what's going on in the bedroom? Your friends and family? Maybe. The characters on Friends? Yeah.
So in fact, one of the things that happens in fiction is we can see private moments and private thoughts in a way that we're, even with today's reality TV, we're probably not going to see. Often things can be depicted fictionally with an emotional realism that's, in many ways, more realistic than you would ever get-- Snooki aside-- from reality. And it also allows audiences access to places and people that are normally inaccessible.
And finally, it allows truth through satire. so those who have read Catch-22-- I don't know how popular that is these days. But Catch-22 is a satire about bomber pilots and World War II. And people who read the book, I think, sometimes get the feeling that they have a better understanding of the insanity of the situation those bomber pilots were in, better than a lot of documentaries that you might see.
Now, let's quickly go through this. I'm going to talk about a couple of studies that we did very quickly. I know that we started late, but I don't think we're going to run too late. And I'm mentioning these studies, in part because both of these studies had undergraduates who helped plan these studies and helped run these studies. And I wanted you to see what kinds of things are being done that include undergraduates in the research.
So one of the questions you could ask is does realism depend on who you are and what role you're playing? Now, I think that you probably don't remember when Katie Couric, who is now no longer the anchor for CBS News, but when she first became anchor, somebody released a publicity photo that had been photoshopped. And she came out somewhat thinner than she really is. Quite graciously, Katie made the comment that in the real photo of her, there is more of her to love.
But the question that that raises is does this make a difference? Is the thinness, particularly of women, as this ideal body type, does that make a difference in what kind of role they can play? And so Claudia Barriga and I did a study. And let me briefly tell you what that study was about. The question we asked is would a larger woman get the role on a TV show? And was she considered as realistic as a woman who was thinner?
And so we took some women. We photoshopped them to be small, medium, or large. And we also put them either in an office context or in a domestic context. Larger women were perceived as less realistic and less likely to get a role on a TV show in a professional setting. Body type had little effect on perceived realism in a domestic setting. In other words, larger body types were OK if it was going to be a show about home, hearth, et cetera.
One of the interesting things-- and we did this twice. We gave the participants in the study-- and at least some of these were not undergraduates, these were shopping mall patrons. We gave them a acceptance of equality of women scale. The more women were seen as equal by the participants, the more they bought into the thin ideal for women, which we sometimes termed as your friends are your enemies.
Another, study we did recently we asked the question do our expectations about how people act in a particular situation influence our judgments about their realism, empathy, and credibility? Now, this was inspired by an undergraduate, in fact, who did her honors project looking at eyewitness testimony and whether jurors would make these judgments differently. And we did a little bit of a modification on that afterward. And let's take a look at something from the recent news that's relevant.
- Lately jurors can't be too sure which Casey is going to show up. Yesterday, laughter. On Friday, tears. And glares from a seemingly angry Casey during her brother's testimony on Thursday. Shortly after, a sick Casey had to be escorted out of the courtroom.
And both sides are trying to present the Casey they want the jury to see. From the prosecution a cold hearted party girl who danced while her daughter was supposedly missing. From the defense the image of a caring mother, devastated by her child's loss. Throughout the trial, she's been wearing her emotions on her sleeve as every piece of evidence is presented.
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: OK. Matt, if you're back there somewhere, I think we can go down some on the volume for the videos, even more.
So our experiment-- we gave people new stories about crime-- robbery, carjacking. And the male or female crime victim expressed one of three emotions-- fear, anger, or no emotion. Now, there's a lot of things that would indicate to us that what people expect people to express in these situations is fear. And the question is, does that influence realism, empathy, and credibility?
Fear was perceived, in general, as more realistic and credible than anger or no emotion. However, the difference between anger and fear sometimes went away for males and for African-American characters. Now, let me point out that this does not mean they were less credible. In fact, in general, they were just as credible. In some cases-- I believe in the case of African-American characters, they were a little more credible. And that's actually typical in the literature, by the way. The difference was that fear wasn't seen as more realistic and credible. Fear and anger seems equally realistic.
OK. Now, how many of you are engineers? Oh my, quite a few. OK. Well, I think the next segment is for you. Hopefully this is going to work here. Oh dear.
[MUSIC PLAYING - THE GUILD, "(DO YOU WANNA DATE MY) AVATAR"] Do you want to date my avatar? Do you want to date my avatar?
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: Matt, a little more volume.
Hang with me in my MMO. So many places we can go. You'll never see my actual face. Our love, our love will be in virtual space. I'm craving to emote with you. So many animations I can do. Be anything you want me to be. Come on, come on, share a potion with me.
Do you want to be my avatar? She's a star. And she's hotter than reality by far. Want to date my avatar? You can type command. I've got [INAUDIBLE] what I held in my hand. Don't care what's in your character bank. How about, how about a little tank and spank? Grab your mouse and stroke the keys. Here in cyberspace, there's no disease. Pick a time, send a tale to me. Just pay, just pay a small subscription fee.
Do you want to date my avatar? She's a star. And she's hotter than reality by far. Want to date my avatar?
Single white human, look for group? My stack's so high, you'll be out of the loop.
You've got [INAUDIBLE] that you can't equip because your [INAUDIBLE] just a pure nerd nip.
I'm a picture-based fantasy, a man so stoic. I hack and slash. Who the heck's more heroic?
Check me out, [INAUDIBLE] fits me like a glove. Just Twitter a time, I'm ready for love.
Hang with me in my MMO.
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: OK. So that brings up one issue about why understanding the psychology of realism is important. As we've talked about all along, stories are fundamental to telling about and understanding the world. Realism judgments are important and how we process stories and how they influence us.
Virtual reality, ubiquitous computing and games, the kinds of things that my generation didn't have for most of our lives, and your generation consider like, Yeah, of course. What's next? Where, in many of these cases, you are the character-- first person shooters being the most obvious example. RPG games also, role-playing games, you're a character. And in these kind of multiplayer environments, you're sometimes dealing with real people and sometimes dealing with others. And making realism judgments becomes even more complicated. So how these kinds of things happen psychologically are becoming more and more important.
And some of you apparently are familiar with this? This is-- Yeah.
- The Kajimoto Laboratory at the--
MICHAEL SHAPIRO: I apologize for the Japanese speaker.
- --University of Electrical Communications is conducting research into tactile communication, with the aim of creating a device which can effectively transmit the feeling of a kiss.
- [SPEAKING JAPANESE]
- The position information values can also be recorded, and the kiss information for different individuals can be freely replayed.
- [SPEAKING JAPANESE]
OK. Now, I'm sure that some of the engineers in the audience are going, no, no. You don't understand. They're just getting started. We have to go back and work on this. OK. Sorry for talking about engineers here.
One of the things that-- OK. Let's see what happens here. We can actually use some of our judgments about realism to assess how well we think this would work. So assume this device is perfected and you are remotely kissed by your favorite celebrity.
Let's rate it. OK. Plausibility. Are you likely to be kissed by your favorite celebrity in real life? OK. Typicality representativeness. Is a celebrity kissing you likely to be something that happens? Probably not. Factuality. Did this actually happen? No. Well, not to me, anyway. Involvement-- the ability to relate to media characters and their emotions. Well, hey, if the engineers do perfect this, might not be that bad.
One of the comments, by the way, on YouTube is-- below this video was, and he's never going to get kissed. OK.
Narrative consistency-- consistent within its own assumptions? Maybe. Perceptual persuasiveness. Well, that depends on how good you engineers are. If this were to happen to me this would make sense. Probably not. OK.
This brings up another aspect of this. And that's that we make realism judgments as a natural part of processing stories. Those judgments are complicated, and for adults these complex judgments help us figure out that things don't have to look realistic to have some realism. Unfortunately, the opposite is true as well. For example, for Stanley in the cartoon, it can tell us that no matter how good virtual reality gets, no matter how much we're a brain in a vat, it can tell us that what looks realistic is probably, indeed, too good to be true.
Let me mention a couple of things that we're working on. We're now working on some studies that look at when are more realistic characters more effective in health messages. A lot of health messages these days are aimed-- are telling stories about people. How do our moral judgments about characters influence our judgments about the realism and about the character's effectiveness in health messages?
For example, one of the things we're looking at is, let's say you have someone who says that they can't exercise because they live in an urban area and it's dangerous to go walking. Well, one possibility is that you make a moral judgment that, well, yeah. That's unfair. And that makes it hard for you. Another is that you're just a whiner. You ought to try harder.
And in fact, it looks like different people may make those more, that it may be some people making one moral judgment and some people making another. And we're interested in how that affects the realism of the character, and how effective that character is it getting the health message across.
I want to thank you. Again, welcome to Cornell. And we'd love to have you participate more in all of the things going on at Cornell, including the research going on. Thank you.
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The New Student Reading Project at Cornell University is celebrating its 11th anniversary this year with E.L. Doctorow's novel Homer and Langley.
Homer and Langley provides a fictionalized redaction of the lives of the renowned Collyer brothers, whose story became a New York urban legend. After their parents' death in the flu pandemic of 1918, within the family mansion on Fifth Avenue Homer and Langley compile a world of their own, apart from but intimately and paradoxically connected with the transformative events of twentieth-century American history.