Title: Disposition development in drama: the role of moral, immoral and ambiguously moral characters
Authors: Allison Eden, Matthew Grizzard, Robert J. Lewis
Addresses: 552 Communication Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA. ' 557 Communication Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA. ' 463 Communication Arts and Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
Abstract: Understanding what drives narrative appeal is a major focus of entertainment research. Disposition theory proposes that appeal is a function of the dispositions viewers hold towards characters, which are in turn driven by viewer perceptions of character morality and outcomes experienced by characters. However, the manner in which dispositions change overtime has not been extensively researched. In addition, disposition research has overlooked characters that do not provoke consistently strong dispositions in viewers. The current study tracks disposition formation across eight weeks of a serial drama. Results indicate that as predicted, character morality and liking are strongly related, and that depending on the morality of the character, these dispositions can shift overtime in a predictable fashion. Characters who do not engender strong dispositions in viewers do play a role in overall enjoyment, however may be less critical in dispositional processes than clear-cut heroes and villains. Therefore, to understand the role these characters play we may need to look beyond dispositional concerns.
Keywords: disposition theory; moral characters; ambiguously moral characters; immoral characters; serial drama; narrative appeal; entertainment; viewer perceptions; character morality; enjoyment; heroes; villains; drama series; ambiguous characters.
International Journal of Arts and Technology, 2011 Vol.4 No.1, pp.33 - 47
Published online: 27 Dec 2010 *Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article