Moviegoers’ Chemicals Spike During Suspense Scenes

June 15, 2016
Theater air composition changes based on events in the film.

You might think silencing your cellphone and refraining from talking will make you the perfect, unobtrusive moviegoer. Think again. As you and your fellow audience members react to scenes playing out on the big screen, you release chemical compounds en masse that alter the air around you. This was among the findings of a study of more than 100 screenings of 16 different films in a German cinema, according to an article from Scientific American.

Scientists studied the air composition in the theater as audiences sat down to enjoy films including The Hunger Games 2, Walking with Dinosaurs and The Little Ghost. According to the article, the most significant chemical changes corresponded with suspenseful scenes. Isoprene reportedly spiked during The Hunger Games 2 when the heroine’s dress caught on fire and at the start of the final battle. Chemicals emitted during injury scenes included methanol, acetaldehyde and butadiene, according to the article. A researcher on the project notes that this type of analysis may offer a way to objectively assess audio-visual material among groups of people in advertising or video game design.

Read the entire article here.

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