Disposition development in drama: the role of moral, immoral and ambiguously moral characters
by Allison Eden, Matthew Grizzard, Robert J. Lewis
International Journal of Arts and Technology (IJART), Vol. 4, No. 1, 2011

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.

Online publication date: Sun, 11-Jan-2015

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