Understanding Audiences of the Future - development and deployment of non-invasive measures of individual or collective immersion

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: Experimental Psychology


Brief description of the context of the research, including potential impact
Audience immersion lies at the heart of the success of any performance. New media formats for cinema and broadcast promise new and powerful ways to deliver performance in effective, exciting, and novel ways. In this project we will enable the development and deployment of non-invasive measures of individual or collective immersion. These could support better editorial decision making; provide a dynamic means of adapting a programme in real time; and also provide insights into the relative contributions of narrative, technology, interactivity, properties of media.
To obtain continuous, non-invasive measurements of immersion which are sensitive to how immersion may vary over the course of a programme, while not disrupting viewer experience itself.
To use these measurements to explain how immersion utilises a range of cognitive processes (e.g. attention, memory, emotion) to engage audiences.
To address how immersion can occur within a variety of media (e.g. book, film, game, virtual reality) and aspects of that media (e.g. narrative vs technological properties)
Novelty of the research methodology
Typically, research investigating audience engagement uses post-viewing measures such as questionnaires to assess content. When continuous measures are used, they can be invasive and disruptive to the experience (for example, eye tracking which requires the head to be held still in a chin rest, or fMRI which is loud and can be claustrophobic). Further to this, immersion is more multidimensional than any of these one measures can capture by themselves.
This project aims to combine continuous psychological and physiological measurements to obtain a collective measurement of immersion which captures how different cognitive concepts including attention, memory, and emotion may contribute to whether we are immersed. These measurements will be continuous, which may enable better editorial decision making through highlighting the peaks and troughs of engagement. Our suite of measurements will include dual-task reaction time, memory tests, heart rate, galvanic skin response, head motion, and emotion recognition.
Alignment to EPSRCs strategies or research areas
This project falls within the EPSRC 'Vision, hearing, and other senses' research area which employs basic psychological studies. The broader themes involved includes 'digital economy'.
Any companies or collaborators involved
This project is in collaboration with BBC research and development.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R511857/1 30/09/2017 31/12/2022
2128059 Studentship EP/R511857/1 23/09/2018 31/12/2022 Hugo Hammond