Effects of Intimate and Dramatic Movies on Males Versus Females


Kristen Lawton, Christina Lalla and Janaki Jones


CU Boulder, Fall 2006



For our experiment, we chose to approach the question, “Are males more emotionally responsive to intimate scenes than females and are females more emotionally responsive to dramatic scenes than males?”


For this experiment, we tested the effects of watching both an intimate and dramatic movie scene and the effects that each had on the heart rates of males and females.  Society has labeled males as being more sexual beings while women have been labeled to be more dramatic and emotional.  Due to preconceived notions, we hypothesize that men will experience a greater increase in heart rate due to the intimate scene and women will experience a greater increase in heart rate due to the dramatic scene. 


In the experiment, we used five females and five males between the ages of 18 and 20.  Each subject was tested separately within a controlled environment.  Individuals looked at a blank television screen for five minutes to obtain a resting heart rate, which was taken one minute prior to viewing the dramatic scene. The subjects were then shown the clip and their heart rate was taken immediately after.  The subjects then stepped outside for two minutes while the movie clip was changed and returned to follow the same procedure as before, however, this time with the intimate scene. 


Our results indicated that the percent increase of average heart rate in females was higher for both the dramatic and intimate scene; although, both males and females had a larger increase in heart rate for the intimate scene.  For the dramatic scene, males had an average increase of 7.8% while females had an average increase of 21%.  For the intimate scene, males acquired an average increase of 10.8% while females had an increase of 26%, a much higher average increase.  Although, our data suggests a difference, our statistical analysis did not.  For the dramatic scene, our t-test comparing the average heart rate increase of males to females obtained a p-value was 0.141; which does not express a statistically significant difference between the average heart rate increase in male and female.  For our t-test of the intimate scene, we obtained a p-value of 0.126; which again does not show statistical significance between the average heart rate increase of males to females. 


Statistical results indicated that our results were not consistent with our hypothesis although there did seem to be a trend in the data.  To obtain more significant results we could use more people in our experiment to potentially reduce the amount of variance.  For this experiment, we possibly addressed too many issues.  If we would have just chosen one sex or genre, we may have been able to obtain stronger statistical data to support a hypothesis.  For the next experiment, we should test the effects of two different types of films on the heart rates of women, since our data shows that women were more responsive in both tests.