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Mixed Media in Television Documentaries

Realistic Depictions


Open-ended project


Funded by the Leibniz Association as part of the "Pact for Research and Innovation", and budget resources of KMRC


In television documentaries, an increasing blurring of formats can be observed. So-called “hybrid documentaries” are not only for communicating information, but additionally for entertainment. For this purpose, the educational contents are embedded into suspenseful narratives. Furthermore, especially with archaeological themes, often plausible re-enactments and virtual reality reconstructions are used to visualize the contents.

This project aimed on examining how such hybrid documentaries are cognitively processed. The results showed that hybrid documentaries are processed in a narrative manner: during the reception of hybrid documentaries, a cognitive representation of the narrative is generated, leading to the experience of being transported into the narrative world (transportation). This experience of transportation is additionally facilitated by re-enactments. Furthermore, educational contents which are closely tied to the narrative plotline are remembered better than distant contents. Beyond that, physiological correlates of transportation were examined. Results showed that under optimal viewing conditions, in which it was easy to digress one’s attention from the real world surrounding and concentrate on the narrative world, recipients experienced more transportation, and showed lower heart rates as well as lower eye blink rates, compared to suboptimal viewing conditions.