More Engaging Than Films?

Friday, July 27th, 2018

A study from University College London, in partnership with Audible, has found that when it comes to literary adaptations, audiobooks might have film beaten.

The scientists behind the study asked participants to watch film adaptations of particular scenes, including Mr. Darcy's proposal to Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, and the execution of Ned Stark in A Game of Thrones.  These scenes were chosen for their similarity to the original text, and because they are, as the study put it, "emotionally intense."  Participants were then asked to listen to the same scenes from an audiobook performance, and then to rate which version they felt was more engaging.  Regardless of which story they'd seen and heard, participants across all age ranges said they thought that the video version had been more engaging.

But the data tell a different story.

Each participant was outfitted with monitors that measured their heart rate, body temperature, and electrical activity in their skin to determine which medium provoked a greater physiological response.  Despite participants' comments that video was more engaging, it was audiobooks that caused the biggest physiological changes in listeners.  This indicates that, whether they believe it or not, they're more invested in stories that they hear rather than those they see.

"One of our predictions was that listening to a book would be more cognitive work because you as a listener are involved in the co-creation of the story, using your imagination," said Dr Joseph Devlin, head of experimental psychology at UCL and lead researcher on the project.  "You’re hearing the story but mentally you’re doing all the work, whereas when you’re watching it, it’s more of a passive experience."

Have you tried the audiobook experience yet?  It's one of the fastest growing ways to experience a story, and, thanks to downloadable audiobooks, it's easy to keep an entire library at your fingertips no matter where you go.  Check out our latest Staff Favorites, pick up a new bestseller, or reconnect with a classic via Brilliant Books Audio!

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