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If you want to enjoy the new ‘Star Wars’ film, lower your expectations, says new study

If you’re planning to watch the new “Star Wars” film this holiday season, new American research has found it’s probably better not to expect too much from the film if you really want to enjoy it.

That’s the advice from researchers at The Ohio State University, who surveyed 441 people before and after they saw the last installment of the “Star Wars” franchise, “Star Wars VIII: The Last Jedi” back in 2017.

New research has shown that our expectations of a movie influence how much we will enjoy it. Image: courtesy of Oktay Ortakcioglu/Istock.com via AFP Relaxnews

The researchers first asked the participants to watch a trailer for “The Last Jedi” three weeks before its release, and rate how happy, sad and nostalgic they thought the film would make them feel, on a seven-point scale.

Three weeks later, they asked the participants who had seen the movie how happy, sad and nostalgic they actually felt after watching it, and asked them to rate their enjoyment and appreciation of the movie.

The findings, published online in the Journal of Media Psychology, showed that most people were quite bad at predicting how they would react to seeing the film, with about 55% of participants failing to accurately predict how the movie would make them feel.

Those who had the highest expectations for “The Last Jedi” had the lowest enjoyment of all the participants, while those who had the lowest expectations of the movie actually reported feeling fairly happy after seeing the film. However, their overall enjoyment was still lower than those who felt a similar level of happiness but who went into the movie with higher expectations.

“It wasn’t really helping people to go in with those low expectations,” said study co-author James Alex Bonus. “The negative bias going in dragged them down and even if they were pleasantly surprised by the movie, they still didn’t like it as much as other people did.”

In addition, the researchers also found that the participants who thought the film would make them feel nostalgic were more likely to see it. However, thinking the film would make them feel happy did not predict whether they would see it or not.

“That shows the important role nostalgia plays for audiences of established franchises like Star Wars,” Bonus said.

The researchers concluded that the findings show how much our expectations of a movie can influence our enjoyment of it, especially when it is part of a franchise such as Star Wars, where audiences have a history with the characters or storyline.

“It becomes a lot less about what is in the movie and a lot more about what you expected it to be,” Bonus said.

Bonus added that the findings are also in line with those from other studies, which have suggested that people are bad at predicting how various experiences will make them feel. IB/JB


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