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date: 28 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the relation between folk psychology and cognitive biases in film narration, characterization, and spectatorship. More specifically, the chapter explores the “peak-end” rule and duration neglect as aspects of the way viewers encode their experience of films in long-term memory. As the work of psychologist Daniel Kahneman shows, the “peak-end” rule anticipates that a viewer’s memories of hedonic peaks and dramatic climaxes are more salient than parts of a film less emotionally charged, and further suggests that viewers are less sensitive to the duration of long films if enough hedonic peaks are sprinkled throughout its running time. The chapter concludes with an analysis of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Blind Chance (1981) as an illustration of the “James Dean” effect, which predicts that viewers adjudge a short, happy life as being more desirable than a longer life containing brief bouts of unhappiness

Keywords: folk psychology, cognitive bias, film spectatorship, “peak-end” rule, duration neglect, memory, Daniel Kahneman, hedonic peaks, Blind Chance, “James Dean” effect

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