Cognitive Appraisal

Another emotional theory is by pyschologist Richard Lazaru, called cognitive appraisal.

His research shows that people’s experience of emotion depends on the way they appraise or evaluate the events around them.

A key example he uses is :

“If Tracy is driving on a winding road by the edge of a high cliff, she may be concerned about the danger of the road. Her passenger, on the other hand, thinks about the beauty of the view. Tracy will probably feel frightened, while her passenger may feel exhilarated.”


Why do people cry at movies?

Before I start to piece together my ideas for my short film that focuses on using editing to make audiences sad, I have to research into why audiences cry at movies in the first place.

In an article “People why cry at movies aren’t weak they are emotionally strong” from Elite Daily (here), the writer talks about how its a positive sign that audiences cry at movies as it can make them more “empathetic, sociable and generous”.

“Empathy is a vital aspect of emotional intelligence” – John Haltiwanger, Elite Daily

“Movies are designed to impact us on an emotional level and they frequently succeed in this endeavor.”

” When we watch films with highly emotional content, it releases oxytocin — a potent hormone that also behaves as a neurotransmitter in the brain. Oxytocin is what helps us connect with other humans and compels us to be more empathic, loving, trusting and unselfish individuals. Paul J. Zak, a neuroeconomist at Claremont Graduate School, is a world-renowned expert on oxytocin, which he has dubbed the “moral molecule.” In an experiment conducted by one of his graduate students, participants were shown a video from St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, TN. One half of the group saw a portion of the video in which a father discusses the terminal brain cancer of his young son, Ben. The other half watched a part where Ben and his father visited the zoo. The portion of the video in which Ben’s cancer was discussed was obviously more difficult to watch and produced a more emotional response. But the participants who watched it exhibited a 47 percent increase of oxytocin as measured in blood, which also proved to alter their behavior in positive ways.”

“What this all suggests is we cry during emotional movies because of oxytocin, which makes us feel more connected with the characters while increasing levels of empathy, altruism and even fulfillment.”

References :

Elite Daily. 2015. People Who Cry During Movies Aren’t Weak, They’re Emotionally Strong. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 6 April 2016].