ArticlePDF Available

Dubbing or Subtitling?: Effects on Spatial Presence, Transportation, Flow, and Enjoyment


Abstract and Figures

Dubbing and subtitling are the two most common methods of translating television broadcasts or movies. Both dubbing and subtitling may present specific advantages and disadvantages. In this study, the effects of these two methods on presence, transportation, flow, and enjoyment were investigated in an experimental approach. Participants ( N = 154) watched a 30-min segment of a movie. Between-subject factors were translation method (dubbing without subtitles, dubbing with subtitles in a foreign language, and original language with subtitles) and genre (drama, comedy, and thriller). Findings indicate that subtitles in a foreign language decrease feelings of spatial presence, transportation, and flow. However, the difference between dubbing and subtitling failed to reach significance. No effect of translation method on enjoyment was found. The pattern of results is equal for all genres. Further analyses showed spatial presence, transportation, and flow to be related. In addition, transportation is more strongly related to enjoyment than flow and spatial presence. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Content may be subject to copyright.
B.Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling?Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–12 5© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
Dubbing or Subtitling?
Effects on Spatial Presence,
Transportation, Flow, and Enjoyment
Bartholomäus Wissmath
, David Weibel
, and Rudolf Groner
Department of Psychology, University of Bern, Switzerland
Swiss Universitary Institute of Distance Education, Brig, Switzerland
Abstract. Dubbing and subtitling are the two most common methods of translating television broadcasts or movies. Both dubbing and
subtitling may present specific advantages and disadvantages. In this study, the effects of these two methods on presence, transportation,
flow, and enjoyment were investigated in an experimental approach. Participants (N = 154) watched a 30-min segment of a movie.
Between-subject factors were translation method (dubbing without subtitles, dubbing with subtitles in a foreign language, and original
language with subtitles) and genre (drama, comedy, and thriller). Findings indicate that subtitles in a foreign language decrease feelings
of spatial presence, transportation, and flow. However, the difference between dubbing and subtitling failed to reach significance. No
effect of translation method on enjoyment was found. The pattern of results is equal for all genres. Further analyses showed spatial
presence, transportation, and flow to be related. In addition, transportation is more strongly related to enjoyment than flow and spatial
Keywords: dubbing, subtitling, spatial presence, transportation, flow, enjoyment
Movies and television programs are frequently exported.
On Swiss public television channels, only 37.2% of the
transmitted contents are produced in Switzerland (Schwei-
zerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft, 2006a). In the
Netherlands, about one-third of all broadcasts are imported
from abroad (Luyken, Herbst, Langham-Brown, Reid, &
Spinhof, 1991; Spinhof & Peeters, 1999). Thus, multilin-
gualism in Europe implies that many movies and broad-
casts are necessarily translated. The two most frequently
used translation methods are subtitling and dubbing (Kil-
born, 1993; Koolstra, Peeters, & Spinhof, 2002).
Employment of these two techniques varies consider-
ably across the European countries (Danan, 1989; Koolstra
et al., 2002; Luyken et al., 1991). There are typical dubbing
countries such as Germany, France, Italy, Austria, and
Spain. In contrast, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Luxem-
burg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden can be con-
sidered subtitling countries. In Great Britain and Ireland
both methods are equally often used (Kilborn, 1993). The
four official languages spoken in Switzerland make this
country a special case. Regardless of the target group’s lan-
guage, Swiss TV stations mainly dub foreign languages.
Dubbing is also dominant in the television programs of the
neighboring countries Germany, France, and Italy. In Swit-
zerland, the television programs of these three countries
reach a market share of 52.9% (Schweizerische Radio- und
Fernsehgesellschaft, 2006b). In contrast, Swiss movie the-
aters show mostly subtitled movies, and subtitles are usu-
ally in two or even three languages.
There are not only differences in program directors’
preferences and actual use of the two translation meth-
ods, but also in the attitudes of the audiences. Corre-
spondingly, research found audiences prefer the transla-
tion method they are best acquainted with (Bruls & Kerk-
man, 1989; Kilborn, 1993; Koolstra et al., 2002; Luyken
et al., 1991).
Neither dubbing nor subtitling allows for word-by-word
translations. With dubbing, synchronizing the voiceover
and the displayed lip movements often requires adjusting
the text. However, the differences in the length of the ex-
pression are not as big as one could initially expect (Marsi,
1999). Therefore, dubbing generally results in little loss of
information. Thisis not necessarily true for subtitling.Each
subtitle spaces included consists of no more than 64
characters. According to the 6-s rule, a subtitle consisting
of 64 characters is displayed for 6 s (Gielen & d‘Ydewalle,
1989). If fewer characters are used, the duration will be
reduced correspondingly. Hence, an average speech rate of
slightly more than two words per second requires the con-
densation of the statements (Koolstra et al.,2002). Accord-
ing to these authors, Dutch subtitlers omit approximately
30% of the English spoken text. Of course, interpreters try
not to omit central pieces of information a goal that is
usually achieved:
“In most cases, however, experienced subtitlers are capable of
producing translations that are of equal value to the original
information and condensation will not lead to loss of informa-
tion” (Koolstra et al., 2002, p. 328).
DOI 10.1027/1864-1105.21.3.114
Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125 © 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
The proponents of subtitling point out that the original
soundtrack is more authentic than any dubbed soundtrack.
Koolstra et al. (2002) state that imperfect synchronicity of
dubbed language and the actors’ lip movements could in-
terfere with the reception. In addition, dubbing results in
the loss of important aspects of the acting. Finally, subti-
tling is usually less costly than dubbing.
Dubbing also bears various advantages. A major advan-
tage is that dubbed foreign content can be watched effort-
lessly, without having to read subtitles in one’s own lan-
guage. Thus, dubbed contents might be perceived as more
familiar than subtitled ones (Mailhac, 2000). In addition,
identification with the actors is facilitated if they seem to
speak the audiences own language (Koolstra et al., 2002).
Research found dubbed contents to be perceived as less
unnatural by audiences accustomed to this method (Kool-
stra et al., 2002). This suggests a habituation to imperfect
synchronicity between dubbed language and the actors’ lip
Both dubbing and subtitling affect information process-
ing. Dubbing results in the loss of the original soundtrack,
whereas subtitles cover parts of the display. In contrast to
dubbed programs, subtitles require media users to read
(Koolstra et al., 2002). Thus, subtitling might result in loss
of information as the dialogs are condensed, parts of the
screen are covered with text, and attention might be drawn
away from the center of the screen. However, under certain
circumstances (i.e., soft-spoken dialog, environmental
noise) information processing may be facilitated compared
to dubbed contents.
An issue of past research is whether audiences have the
capability to process both subtitles as well as the original
soundtrack. Sohl (1989) investigated information process-
ing by means of three different versions of a television
broadcast. The first version contained neither subtitles nor
original soundtrack, the second one contained the original
soundtrack in the audience’s language but no subtitles, and
the third one contained both subtitles and original sound-
track. The participants watched the broadcasts while carry-
ing out a secondary task. Performance in the secondary task
was worse in condition two compared to condition one and
even worse in condition three. According to Sohl (1989),
thispattern of resultsindicates that the twofold presentation
of dialog affects information processing more than the two
other presentations. The results imply that subtitles capture
the audience’s attention even if the original soundtrack is
available in the same language. Research correspondingly
found children as well as adults to learn vocabulary from
the original soundtrack when watching subtitled movies.
This again suggests that the audiences pay attention to the
original soundtrack and subtitles (Pavakanun & d’Yde-
walle, 1992; Koolstra & Beentjes, 1999; d’Ydewalle & Pa-
vakanun, 1997; d’Ydewalle & van de Poel, 1999).
An argument against the use of subtitles is the assump-
tion that subtitles draw one’s attention away from the center
of the screen. However, d’Ydewalle, van Rensbergen, and
Pollet (1987) found that the focus of attention is shifted
automatically and efficiently from the picture to the subti-
tles and vice versa. Gielen (1988) assessed the eye move-
ments of television viewers watching subtitled television
programs and found them to focus slightly above the sub-
titles. This strategy allows one to simultaneously capture
the picture as well as the subtitles. According to Gielen
(1988), these findings can be seen as evidence against a
conflict in information processing.
In addition, eye-tracking studies found that subtitles
catch the attention automatically as soon as they pop up
(d’Ydewalle, Praet, Verfaillie, & van Rensbergen, 1991;
d’Ydewalle et al., 1987). The subtitles are followed even
if the dialog is available in the audience’s language. This
is not only true for subtitles in the audience’s language
(d’Ydewalle et al., 1987), but also for subtitles in a lan-
guage foreign to the audience, which result in an automatic
orienting toward them (d’Ydewalle et al., 1991).
Thus, the attention allocation seems to beefficiently and
automatically distributed. This conclusion and findings in-
dicating that reading is usually faster than listening to spo-
ken language suggest that information processing could be
more efficient for subtitled than for dubbed contents
(d’Ydewalle et al., 1991). According to Koolstra et al.
(2002), another point is that subtitles can be read forward,
backwards, and repeatedly. Additional empirical evidence
for the efficiency of subtitles is provided by Gielen (1988),
who found that 97% of the subtitles presented are recog-
nized in a recognition test after watching translated con-
Mangnus, Hoeken, and van Driel (1994) compared in-
formation processing for dubbed and subtitled programs.
Against their expectations, no differences were found be-
tween the information processing of verbal and visual in-
formation. The authors explain their result with the in-
creased efficacy of reading compared to listening.
Watching subtitled contents seems to work automatical-
ly and efficiently, and both translation methods provide an
audio-visual display. However, subtitling additionally re-
quires the audience to perform the task of reading. This
additional task was found to increase the mental workload
in audiences (Sohl, 1989). During a complete movie,
French audiences (i.e., a population not accustomed to sub-
titling) seem to be flooded with a sense of exhaustion if
they have to watch subtitled movies (Marleau, 1982).
As described above, the effects of the two translation
methods on information processing have been investigated
in various studies (d’Ydewalle et al., 1987, 1991; Gielen,
1988; Mangnus et al., 1994). In summary, findings show
that audiences perceive dubbed contents as more familiar
than subtitled contents (Mailhac, 2000), while identifica-
tion with the actors seems to be facilitated by the dubbing
method (Koolstra et al., 2002). However, existing research
does not provide an answer to the following question:
Which of the two translation techniques facilitates the psy-
chological immersion in the world of the movie or broad-
cast? The immersion in mediated activities or environ-
ments is an issue of recent research, and various concepts
B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling? 115
© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125
have evolved over the past years. We introduce the four
approaches we believe to be most central: spatial presence,
transportation, flow, and enjoyment.
Theories of Media Immersion
Theories of presence allow a comprehensive understanding
of immersion in mediated environments such as television
broadcasts or movies. In 1980, Marvin Minsky coined the
term telepresence, whereby technical devices allow media
users to feel located in physically remote places. Nowa-
days, when media contents are perceived as “real” in the
sense that media users experience a sensation of being spa-
tially located in the mediated environment, the term “pres-
ence” is used (Draper, Kaber & Usher, 1998; Heeter, 1992;
Klimmt & Vorderer, 2003). In this context, Lombard and
Ditton (1997) underline the perceptive illusion of nonme-
diation. Ijsselsteijn, Freeman, and de Ridder (2001) define
the subdimensions spatial presence (i.e., the illusion of be-
ing located in a mediated environment), social presence
(i.e., the illusion of being together with a mediated person),
and co-presence (i.e., the combination of the two former
illusions). Thus, the illusion of nonmediation can be spatial
aswell as social (Ijsselsteijn, de Ridder, Freeman, & Avons,
2000). Presence is assumed to occur above all in virtual
realities (VR). However, there is plenty of research sug-
gesting that experiences of presence also occur in less in-
teractive media such as television, movies, or even in
books. Hartmann et al. (2005) point out that self-location
is a new and promising concept to understanding media
reception. Spatial presence is understood as a mode of re-
ception not restricted to any particular kind of medium.
Undoubtedly, the sensation of spatial presence can be trig-
gered through the synchronous activation of different sens-
es as in the case of immersive media (Biocca, 1997). Nev-
ertheless, because of various cognitive processes, other ac-
tivities such as book reading may trigger sensations of
presence as well (Schubert & Crusius, 2002).
With their process model, Wirth et al. (2007) provide a
systematic concept of the formation of spatial presence ex-
periences. The model includes two critical steps: In the first
step a spatial representation of the mediated environment
emerges. This representation depends on the attention allo-
cation to the medium. Thus, it can be media-induced
through involuntary attentionallocation (see Öhman,1979)
or it can be directly controlled by the media user. The
authors assume that both of these triggering mechanisms
occur in any type of media usage. However, the proportion
to which one mechanism overtakes another in a particular
situation depends on the immersiveness of the medium
(e.g., books vs. VR) and on the media usersskills,motives,
and interests.
Once a spatial representation is established, the second
important step suggested by the model is that the media
users no longer locate themselves in the physical but in the
mediated environment. This decision mechanism can be
understood in terms of perceptual hypothesis testing (Bru-
ner & Postman, 1948): Self-localization can be seen as a
consequence of confirming a perceptual hypothesis. Spa-
tial presence is experienced if the users accept the medium
as primary egocentric reference frame (PERF) hypothesis.
This hypothesis in turn depends on media as well as user
Media characteristics determining sensations of spatial
presence in the context of television arescreen size (Bocker
& Muhlbach, 1993; Heeter, 1992; Lombard, 1995; Lom-
bard, Ditton, Grabe, & Reich, 1997; Reeves, Detenber, &
Steuer, 1993; Zeltzer, 1992) and image quality (Bracken,
2002; Neuman, 1990). Thus, Grabe, Lombard, Reich,
Bracken, and Ditton (1999) conclude that presence can be
investigated in the context of television. Another point is
that movies and television force the audience to establish
a spatial situation model (SSM) because these media imply
the establishment of spatial references (Hartmann et al.,
2005). Because of the combination of visual as well as au-
dio channels, movies, and television can be considered
multimodal. Thereby, to allow for a consistent SSM, the
sensory input should be congruent over the different mo-
dalities (Wirth et al., 2007).
On both levels of the model, personality traits such as
visual imagery skills (Hegarty, Richardson, Montello,
Lovelance & Subbiah, 2002) or interests are highly rele-
vant. To achieve the second step the self-localization in
the mediated environment – absorption as a trait is an im-
portant precondition for the suspension of disbelief (see
Mögerle, Böcking, Wirth, & Schramm, 2006). According
to Mögerle et al., suspension of disbelief is the intentional
suppression of external distractors and thoughts that con-
strain the persuasiveness of the medium. Correspondingly,
Lombard and Ditton (1997) see the motivation to get in-
volved with the medium and to suppress shortcomings of
the displayed environment (e.g., the two-dimensional rep-
resentation of a three-dimensional environment) as a cen-
tral precondition for the sensation of spatial presence. The
spatial presence model (Wirth et al., 2007), however, iden-
tifies several other user characteristics such as demograph-
ics, domain-specific interest, or personality factors that de-
termine spatial presence.
The theoretical considerations of Wirth et al. (2007) and
Steuer (1992) are in line with the findings of Kim and Bioc-
ca (1997), who in their factor-analytical approach found
that presence consists of two factors: departure (fading out
of the immediate physical environment) and arrival (self-
location in the mediated environment). Kim and Biocca
(1997) investigated spatial presence in the context of tele-
vision and developed a questionnaire tailored specifically
to this medium. They found spatial presence to be experi-
enced while watching television even, though the latter can
be clearly considered a noninteractive medium. This issue
isfurther addressed by Schubert and Crusius (2002), whose
116 B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling?
Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125 © 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
central question is the extent to which low immersive me-
dia such as books or movies compared to VR applications
evoke the sensation ofspatial presence. They assume spa-
tial presence to imply cognitive representations induced by
the medium. According to the authors, regardless of the
media characteristics spatial presence emerges when the
perception of the immediate physical environment is sup-
pressed by the cognitive representation of the mediated en-
Technological aspects have been overemphasized in the ad-
vent of presence research. This has just recently been re-
vised as among other factors the impact of user char-
acteristics has been underlined (see Heeter, 2003; Wirth et
al. 2007). In contrast to early presence research, transpor-
tation theory included user characteristics from the very
beginning. Green, Brock, and Kaufman understand trans-
portation as “the experience of cognitive, affective and im-
agery involvement in a narrative” (2004, p. 311). Hence,
the media user is mentally drawn away from the actual
physical environment into the world of a narrative. Trans-
portation theory suggests that the reader plunges in the
world of a narrative by suspending real-world facts (Green
& Brock, 2002). We believe this particular mechanism and
the suspension of disbelief to conceptually overlap. Re-
gardless whether books or movies are consumed, Green et
al. (2004) assume that experiences of transportation, i.e.,
an escape in alternate universes, are a major goal of readers
and viewers.
Another important precondition to experiencing trans-
portation is the identification with the fictional characters
of a narrative (Green et al., 2004). The authors define iden-
tification as the “adoption of a characters thoughts, goals,
emotions, and behaviors, and such vicarious experience re-
quires the reader or viewer to leave his or her physical,
social, and psychological reality behind in favor of the
world of the narrative and its inhabitants” (p. 318).
Because of ample degrees of freedom in the imagination
of the plot and the self-paced reception mode, Green et al.
(2004) consider books to easily evoke experiences of trans-
portation. According to Schubert and Crusius (2002), VR
applications are likely to simultaneously elicit involvement
and spatial presence. The authors state that books also bear
the potential to create strong involvement. Literature most
likely immerses the reader through “the power of narra-
tion” (p. 4). Regarding involvement and spatial presence,
movies are not as clearly positioned as books or VRs:
Through narrative elements, movies can elicit or increase
sensationsof transportation, although narration is not a nec-
essary precondition to immersing the audience in this par-
ticular medium (see Schubert & Crusius, 2002).
As mentioned above, transportation depends on reader
characteristics. Thus, Green et al. (2004) referto individual
differences in mental imagery skills. Individuals who tend
to“think in pictures” (p. 313) are assumed to be more trans-
ported by books than by movies, whereas the opposite is
assumed for people with poor mental imagery skills. Con-
sequently, there are interindividual differences in the abil-
ity to plunge in the world of a narrative and not every story
bears the same potential to immerse the reader.Imagination
and absorption are central skills that facilitate transporta-
tion (Green & Brock, 2002). However, the authors place
their conclusionsinto the perspective of research indicating
that imagination may also be experienced by individuals
with low imagery skills. A conceptual problem is the extent
to which transportation is experienced in nonnarrative or
reality media contents. This, however, underlines the con-
cept’s specificity for fictional contents and immersion in
alternate worlds. In our study, transportation is a central
concept, however, since most movies include narrative el-
ements (Schubert & Crusius, 2002). Thus, the investigation
of the impact of the two translation methods on transpor-
tation is essential.
The concept of flow was introduced by Mihaly Csikszent-
mihalyi in 1975 and may be highly relevant in the context
of this study. Contrary to the concepts of spatial presence
and transportation, with flow the emphasis lies on the im-
mersion in a particular action (i.e., the active reception)
rather than on the immersion in a mediated environment.
The characteristics of the intrinsically rewarding flow
experiences are intense involvement, clarity of goals and
feedback, concentration and focus, lack of self-conscious-
ness, distorted sense of time, balance between challenge
and skills, and finally, the feeling of full control over the
activity (Csikszentmihalyi, 1988). Correspondingly, Muth
(1996) found that reading a book elicits experiences of
flow. In their factor-analytical approach, Rheinberg, Voll-
meyer, and Engeser (2003) identified the two flow dimen-
sions: smooth automatic running and absorption. The for-
mer factor refers to the feeling of utmost concentration and
focus, control over the activity, clarity of the operations,
and smooth as well as automatic cogitations. The latter fac-
tor includes the feeling of full involvement, distorted sense
of time, optimal challenge, and absent-mindedness. Media
usage frequently triggers both components of flow. Corre-
spondingly, Voiskounsky, Mitina, and Avetisova (2004) as
well as Weibel, Wissmath, Habegger, Steiner, and Groner
(2008) found that flow is often experienced during com-
puter games. In the context of television and movies, the
factor smooth automatic running is less applicable because
the viewers do not take media-related actions as in the case
of computer games. Nonetheless, watching movies and
television often results in intense involvement, concentra-
tion and focus, lack of self-consciousness, suppression of
distractors (see suspension of disbelief), and a distorted
sense of time (Katz & Foulkes, 1962). Thisclearly suggests
B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling? 117
© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125
the usefulness of the flow concept in the context of televi-
sion and movies.
Media usage is often experienced positively (see Bosshart
& Macconi, 1998; Zillmann & Bryant, 1994). According
to Krcmar and Renfro (2005), terms to describe enjoyment
include appreciation, attraction, preference, and liking. The
authors conclude that among those listed above, liking may
be the closest concept. Media enjoyment results from a
combination of physiological, affective, and cognitive fac-
tors rather than from a single factor (Davidson, 2003). In
their review of the literature, however, Krcmar and Renfro
conclude that most research underlines the affective com-
ponent (i.e., enjoyment as an attitude) and usesone-dimen-
sional measures. Media characteristics such as the genre
can also influence sensations of enjoyment (Vorderer,
Klimmt, & Ritterfeld, 2004). It is, however, unlikely that a
person who prefers dramas enjoys any drama all the time
(Vorderer et al., 2004). In addition,esthetic media offerings
are more likely to trigger enjoyment than unesthetic ones
(Cupchik & Kemp, 2000; Sparks & Sparks, 2000). This
could be relevant in the context of translating movies and
broadcasts since, as we described above, the translation
methods are assumed to influence the movies’ esthetic val-
ue. Evidently, enjoyment is determined not only by media
characteristics, but also by the media users personality
traits and by the domain-specific interest. Concerning fic-
tional contents, Vorderer et al. (2004) assume suspension
of disbelief to be a necessary precondition to experiencing
enjoyment. Green and Brock (2002) underline that the con-
ceptual similarity of flow and transportation implies that
transportation is a pleasant experience. Correspondingly,
Sherry (2004) suggests a close relationship between flow
and enjoyment. Empirical evidence corroborates these as-
sumptions. In their study on online gaming, Weibel et al.
(2008) found a positive relationship between spatial pres-
ence, flow, and enjoyment. A connection between spatial
presence and enjoyment is also suggested by Wirth et al.
(2007), who assume that spatial presence is not only a nec-
essary precondition for successful tele-operation, but also
an intensifier of other media effects such as the enjoyment
of entertaining media.
Subtitling is frequently used to translate movies and broad-
casts, and there is evidence that at least some audiences
actually prefer this method of translation (Bruls & Kerk-
man, 1989; Kilborn, 1993; Koolstra et al., 2002; Luyken et
al., 1991). However, Mailhac (2000) states that dubbed
contents are perceived as more familiar. Spatial presence is
most likely experienced if the mediated environment iseas-
ily accessible (Bocker & Muhlbach, 1993; Bracken, 2002;
Heeter, 1992; Lombard, 1995; Lombard et al., 1997; Neu-
man, 1990; Reeves et al., 1993; Zeltzer, 1992). The con-
gruency of the sensory input over different modalities de-
termines spatial presence (Wirth et al., 2007). Neither sub-
titling nor dubbing allows for unrestricted congruency,
since subtitling usually requires the condensation of dialog
and dubbing accepts imperfect synchronicity between lan-
guage and lip movement. Whereas the audiences seem to
become familiar with the dubbing-related interferences
(Koolstra et al., 2002), subtitling may in contrast diminish
the persuasiveness of the displayed environment. In addi-
tion, the sensation of being spatially present could be hin-
dered if subtitles cover parts of the display and the focus
of attention is shifted away from the visual scenery toward
the written dialog (Gielen, 1988). Thus, the following hy-
pothesis is offered:
H1: Compared to subtitling, dubbing is more likely to re-
sult in sensations of spatial presence.
In addition, the identification with the actors should be fa-
cilitated if they seem to speak the audience’s own language
(Koolstra et al., 2002). Identification, in turn, is a central
component of transportation (Green et al., 2004). In addi-
tion to the viewers’ motivation, the persuasiveness of the
mediated contents matters (Green & Brock, 2002). These
findings suggest the following hypothesis:
H2: Compared to subtitling, dubbing is more likely to trig-
ger transportation.
Furthermore, it is plausible that dubbed contents more like-
ly evoke flow during the media reception since subtitling
requires more information processing capacities than dub-
bing does (Marleau, 1982; Sohl, 1989). Dubbing is as-
sumed to interfere with information processing in particu-
lar if the audience is not accustomedto this translation tech-
nique and therefore not habituated to the specific
interferences (Koolstra et al., 2002). In contrast, the in-
creased cognitive load produced by subtitling should pre-
vent the users from having flow-experiences (Csikszentmi-
halyi, 1988; Rheinberg et al., 2003). The perceived effort
should be directly related to the cognitive load (Csikszent-
mihalyi, 1988). This suggests the following:
H3: Compared to subtitling, dubbing is more likely to trig-
ger flow experiences.
So far, only the attitudes toward the two translation meth-
ods – but not their direct effects on enjoyment – have been
investigated. The opponents of dubbing expect the imper-
fect lip synchronicity and the lack of authenticity of this
method to impair the esthetic experience (Koolstra et al.,
2002). Enjoyment is partially a result of the esthetic value
of the movie (Cupchik & Kemp, 2000; Sparks & Sparks,
2000), but also in this regard could the habituation effects
118 B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling?
Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125 © 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
mentioned above appear. Moreover, spatial presence and
enjoyment are positively related (Wirth et al., 2007).
Hence, one can assume that dubbing more than subtitling
results in increased sensations of spatial presence and, con-
sequently, in more enjoyment:
H4: Compared to subtitling, dubbing results in more enjoy-
Another issue we would like to address here is the extent
to which the concepts of spatial presence, transportation,
and flow are related. As outlined above, in all three con-
cepts the attention allocation toward the medium is consid-
ered to be essential. Moreover, all three concepts include
the suppression of distractors (Green & Brock, 2002; Mö-
gerle et al., 2006; Vorderer et al., 2004; Wirth et al., 2007).
This suggests the following:
H5: Spatial presence, transportation, and flow are positive-
ly related.
Our final hypothesis addresses another common aspect of
the concepts of spatial presence, transportation, and flow:
a positive relation with enjoyment. Presence theory (see
Wirth et al., 2007) and findings from other fields such as
online games (Weibel et al., 2008) suggest that immersive
experiences during media usage should trigger enjoyment.
Therefore, the following hypothesis is offered:
H6: Spatial presence, transportation, and flow are positive-
ly related with enjoyment.
To investigate the effects of dubbing and subtitling, we
chose a two-factor design without repeated measurement.
One between-subject factor was Translation Method (dub-
bing, subtitling, and dubbing with foreign subtitles). The
third condition, dubbing with foreign subtitles, is an ad-
vancement of Sohl’s (1989) manipulation. We included this
condition to compare the effects of necessary subtitles and
subtitles, which are not required to understand the dialog.
The second between-subject factor was Genre (drama,
comedy, and thriller). Visch and Tan (2008) found that au-
diences recognize the genre of a movie even if only short
sequences are displayed. Although thereis no scientifically
accepted classification of genres, the authors state that
genre categorization profoundly affects the viewers’ emo-
tional and cognitive responses. We therefore chose three
movies of different genres that audiences are highly famil-
iar with. We believe that this factor increases the external
validity of our experiment.
Dependent variables were spatial presence, transporta-
tion, flow, and enjoyment.
A total of 154 undergraduate psychology students at the
University of Bern, Switzerland (official language: Ger-
man) were recruited during an introductory lecture. They
volunteered to participate in our empirical study. Mean age
was 22.70 years (SD = 5.67) and the majority were female
students (76.6%). Students’ native language was German.
We used three professionally produced movies available on
DVD. The movies were The Road Home (Chi & Yimou,
1999; title of the original version: Wo de fu qin mu qin;
German title: Der Heimweg), My Cousin Vinny (Launer &
Lynn, 1992; German title: Mein Vetter Winnie), and The
Insider (Brenner & Mann, 1999). For the synchronized
condition, German synchronizations of all films were used.
For dubbing in a foreign language, French subtitles were
created. We used high-end video beamers.The screen-ratio
was 16:9 and Dolby Stereo® sound was presented.
Dependent Variables
Spatial presence was assessed by the questionnaire devel-
oped by Kim and Biocca (1997). We chose this instrument
because it is well established and explicitly designed for
the assessment of presence in the context of watching tele-
vision. Another major advantage is that participants can
respond to all questions quickly. It is theoretically based on
the approaches of Steuer (1992) as well as Lombard and
Ditton (1997). The instrument is in line with the central
assumptions of the Wirth et al. (2007) spatial presence
model. According to Kim and Biocca (1997), the instru-
ment reflects two dimensions: departure (being no longer
aware of the immediate physical environment) and arrival
(self-location in the mediated environment). Five items
represent arrival and 3 items represent departure. We used
7-point scales (example item: “During the movie, I felt I
was in the world the movie created”). To avoid response
sets, three items were inversely coded as the authors sug-
gested. In their original study, Kim and Biocca (1997) do
not report the scales reliability.
We measured transportationwith the scale developed by
Green and Brock (2000). The scale consists of 11 items
(example items: “The narrative affected me emotionally”;
“I wanted to learn how the narrative ended”). As the au-
thors recommend, we used 7-point scales and presented the
items number 2, 5, and 9 inversely coded. According to
Green and Brock, the reliability of the scale is at Cron-
bach’s α .76. In their study, the subscales cognitive, affec-
B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling? 119
© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125
tive, and imaginary transportation turned out to be nonor-
thogonal. Therefore, we did not address these subdimen-
To assess flow, we used the selected items of the flow
short scale FKS (Rheinberg et al., 2003). Two dimensions
form the flow construct: smooth automatic running and ab-
sorption. Since several items (e.g., “I knew what I had to
do each step of the way”) seem to be unsuitable in the con-
text of noninteractive media, we only used 4 items without
direct reference to actions (e.g., “I didn’t notice time pass-
ing”). Here we used 7-point scales as well.
Enjoyment was captured with a single item. Single-item
measures to assess enjoyment have been used in various
studies (see Green & Brock 2000; Greeson, 1991; Knob-
loch & Zillmann, 2002; Zillmann, 1988). Correspondingly,
we asked: “How much did you enjoy the movie?” Partici-
pants provided their judgment on a 5-point scale from not
at all to very much.
Our 3 × 3 design required 9 conditions. Prior to the exper-
iment, the participants were told that they could take part
in an empirical investigation concerning movies. To ensure
a situation as natural as possible, the participants were di-
rected to lecture rooms that resembled movie theaters. The
groups were randomly assigned to the experimental condi-
tions. Before the presentation of the movie started, the par-
ticipants were asked not to disturb the other individuals
during the experiment. The experimenter ensured that the
participants followed this request. In all conditions, seg-
ments of movies lasting 30 minutes were presented. The
participants subsequently answered the questionnaires con-
taining the instruments described above as well as ques-
tions concerning demographics and media usage. Then, the
experimenter collected the questionnaires and explained
the aim of the study.
Prior to testing the hypotheses, we ensured that the individ-
uals in the experimental conditions did not differ in terms
of relevant co-variables. A first analysis revealed that the
ratio between females to males is homogeneous over all 9
conditions. If we adopt the criterion of Bortz and Döring
(2003) requiring an α error greater than .25, this is the case,
as the corresponding χ² test indicates (χ² = 4.24; df =8;p =
.83). There are consistently no differences between the
groups in terms of reading habits, F(8, 145) = 0.72, p = .67,
television viewing habits, F(8, 145) = 1.17, p = .32, and the
number of movies watched in a cinema per year,
F(8, 145) = 1.13, p = .35.Moreover,in all 9conditions, the
same number of participants (13%) had seen the movie pri-
or to the experiment, χ² = 3.85; df =8;p = .87.
In a next step, we calculated the internal consistency of
the scales (Cronbach’s α): Spatial presence (α = .76) as
well as transportation (α = .77) are both reliable. The in-
ternal consistency of the adapted flow short scale (α = .67)
is slightly lower, a result perhaps of the low number of
items. Table 1 displays the descriptives of all dependent
We then tested the effects of our experimental factors
translation method and genre, analyzing the data by means
of two-factor analyses of variance (ANOVAs; translation
method × genre). We also calculated the corresponding
ANCOVAs including relevant user characteristics as co-
variables (i.e., amount of cinema visits, reading habits,
amount of TV viewing, and familiarity with the content).
Since the overall pattern of results was identical for both
analysis strategies, we report only the ANOVAs.
As we predicted in Hypothesis 1, there was a significant
main effect translation method, F(2, 145) = 3.85, p < .05,
= .05. Dubbing resulted in the highest levels of presence
(M = 4.19, SD = 0.92), ahead of subtitling (M = 3.80, SD =
0.92) and dubbing with foreign subtitles (M = 3.65, SD =
0.86). Posthoc tests reveal that only the dubbing and dub-
bing with foreign subtitles differ (Tukey’s HSD, p < .05).
There was no main effect of genre on presence, F(2, 145) =
0.67, p = .51, nor an interaction, F(4, 145) = 1.00, p = .41.
In line with Hypothesis 2, translation method had a main
effect on transportation, F(2, 145) = 3.46, p < .05, η
= .04.
Again, dubbing resulted in the highest levels of transporta-
tion (M = 4.19, SD = 0.65), ahead of subtitling (M = 3.99,
SD = 0.77) and dubbing with foreign subtitles (M = 3.81,
SD = 0.76). Correspondingly, the posthoc tests indicate a
difference only between dubbing and dubbing with foreign
subtitles (Tukey’s HSD, p < .05). Moreover, there was no
main effect of genre, F(2, 145) = 0.53, p = .59, nor an in-
teraction, F(4, 145) = 0.91, p = .46.
Hypothesis 3 was also supported: The factors Transla-
tion Method and Genre produce an analogous pattern of
results for flow: We again found a main effect of Transla-
tion Method, F(2, 145) = 3.13, p <.05,η
= .04. Once
more, dubbing resulted in the highest levels of flow (M =
3.68, SD = 0.79), ahead of subtitling (M = 3.35, SD = 1.11)
and dubbing with foreign subtitles (M = 3.19, SD = 0.94).
Posthoc tests found only dubbing and dubbing withforeign
subtitles to differ (Tukey’s HSD, p < .05). There was no
main effect of Genre, F(2, 145) = 1.94, p = .15, nor an in-
teraction, F (4, 145) = 0.53, p = .71.
In contrast to the results above, Hypothesis 4 was not
supported: Neither Translation Method, F(2, 144) = 0.13,
Table 1. Descriptives of the dependent variables (DVs)
DV Min Max MSD
Spatial Presence 1.88 6.13 3.83 .91
Transportation 1.91 6.45 3.98 .74
Flow 1.00 6.50 3.38 .98
Enjoyment 1.00 5.00 2.35 .81
120 B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling?
Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125 © 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
p = .88, nor Genre influence enjoyment, F(2, 144) = 0.14,
p = .87. In addition, the corresponding interaction failed to
reach significance, F(4, 144) = 2.38, p = .06.
Hypothesis 5 was also supported: Table 2 indicates that
the bivariate correlations between spatial presence, trans-
portation, and flow are highly significant.
As predicted in Hypothesis 6, spatial presence, transpor-
tation as well as flow are positively related to enjoyment
(see Table 2).
As an indicator for the illusion of nonmediation (Lombard
& Ditton, 1997), spatial presence should depend on the
consistency of the sensory input over different modalities
(Wirth et al., 2007) and the accessibility of the mediated
environment (Bocker & Muhlbach, 1993; Bracken, 2002;
Heeter, 1992; Lombard, 1995; Lombard et al., 1997; Neu-
man, 1990; Reeves et al., 1993; Zeltzer, 1992). Therefore,
we expected more psychological immersion into the
dubbed versions than into the other two conditions. All cor-
responding main effects corroborate this assumption. In the
posthoc analyses, however, the differences between
dubbed and subtitled movies failed to reach significance.
Still, we found dubbed movies evoke more immersion than
dubbed movies with foreign subtitles.
Most noteworthy, for all dependent variables, was the
lack of interaction between translation method and genre.
In other words, the effect of the factor Translation Method
affects the audience regardless of the genre in the same
The absolute levels of the dependent variables suggest
that during the presentation, our participants’ primary
egocentric reference frame was captured by both the im-
mediate physical environment as well as the movie (Hart-
mann et al., 2005). Therefore, neither ceiling nor floor
effects can be the reason for the small differences be-
tween the conditions. The absolute levels further suggest
that, despite the experimental context, our participants
established SSM. This is what Hartmann et al. assume to
easily happen with the highly visual medium used here.
Subtitling does not seem to interfere with the establish-
ment of the SSM if we directly compare this method with
dubbed contents. The audience appears to tolerate the al-
leged disadvantages of subtitles such as covering parts
of the picture if the subtitles are needed to understand
the dialog. On the second level of the spatial presence
model, the consistency of the perceptual input over dif-
ferent modalities determines whether the SSM will cap-
ture the PERF (Wirth et al., 2007). However, not only
media characteristics such as translation method, but also
user characteristics are decisive for the sensation of spa-
tial presence. In this context, suspension of disbelief (see
gerle et al. 2006; Vorderer et al. 2004) could be a key
concept. Dubbed movieswith foreign subtitles evoke less
sensations of spatial presence whereas subtitling seems
not to interfere with spatial presence. A possible expla-
nation for this finding could be that increased mental
workload in the case of subtitling (see Sohl, 1989) re-
stricts the cognitive resources to doubt the displayed en-
vironment. Another possible explanation could be that
the habituation effects described by Koolstra et al. (2002)
were not effective there. Thus, compared to the original
version, both translation methods could affect the recep-
tion in a similar way. Accordingly, it is possible that, in
the condition dubbed movies with foreign subtitles, low-
er spatial presence scores emerge since the participants
experience less mental workload than in the subtitling
condition and thus have more free attentional capabil-
ities to question the displayed environment.
The effects of translation method and genre on transpor-
tation and spatial presence show an identical pattern of re-
sults. Only dubbing with foreign subtitles significantly re-
duces experiences of transportation. These findings sug-
gest similar conclusions as in the case of spatial presence.
In addition, we think that transportation in particular allows
us to examine the effects of the translation method on the
identification with the actors. Mailhac (2000) suggests in-
creased identification with actors who seem to speak the
audience’slanguage. However,regardless of the genre, for-
eign-spoken dialog does not seem to interfere with the
identification with the actors if adequate subtitles are avail-
able. In addition, the imperfect synchronicity between
dubbed language and the actors’ lip movements seems ei-
ther not to interfere with the reception at all or to have a
similar effect as subtitling.
The effects of the translation method on flow are con-
gruent with the above findings. Subtitling apparently does
not result in increased mental workload as Sohl (1989) had
suggested since the flow ratings between dubbing and sub-
titling do not differ. However, the reduced flow ratings for
dubbed contents with foreign subtitles corroborate the find-
ings of d’Ydewalle et al. (1991), who stated that subtitles
increase the attentional load even if they are in a foreign
language and thus not necessary to understand the dialog.
This indicates that subtitles interfere with the reception,
although this does not seem to be true for subtitles in the
recipient’s language, which are critical to understand the
Taken together, there was no substantial difference be-
tween dubbed and subtitled moviesin terms of spatial pres-
ence, transportation, and flow; only the posthoc test be-
Table 2. Bivariate correlations
DV 1234
1. Spatial Presence .56** .48** .32**
2. Transportation .57** .55**
3. Flow .45**
4. Enjoyment
Note. *p < .05, **p < .01.
B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling? 121
© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125
tween dubbing and dubbing with foreign subtitles was sig-
The effects of the different translation methods are very
complex. According to Koolstra et al. (2002), identification
with the actors could be facilitated if the actors seem to
speak the audience’s language. Conversely, imperfect syn-
chronicity or knowing the dubbersvoice from another con-
text could counter this effect. Our findings support research
suggesting that displaying text (i.e., foreign subtitles in
dubbed movies) interferes with the sensation of spatial
presence, transportation, and flow. Even so, there was no
difference between dubbed and subtitled movies. A possi-
ble reason could be that subtitles interfere with the recep-
tion on the one hand, but that the increased authenticity of
the original soundtrack compensates for this drawback on
the other hand.
Another possible explanation for the small differences
could be that the participants are accustomed to watching
both subtitled and dubbed contents. Therefore, our partici-
pants may no longer notice the impaired synchronicity of
dubbed contents as asynchronous and also be well prepared
tocope with the cognitively demanding subtitles. One point
that speaks against this conclusion could be that there was
no effect of the amount of cinema visits as a covariable.
Our findings, based on new theoretical concepts as well
as a new experimental approach, corroborate the conclu-
sion of Koolstra et al. (2002), that subtitling and dubbing
are both effective methods of translation if the audience is
accustomed to these methods. Against our expectations,
there was no main effect of the translation method on en-
joyment. This finding implies that the previous debate ex-
aggerated the esthetic consequences of the two translation
methods. A particular point for this conclusion is that even
foreign subtitles did not reduce the enjoyment of the movie.
In addition, the fact that both methods have been used in
European countries for a long time suggests that both meth-
ods are useful. So far, the audiences’ preferences have only
been assessed in terms of the attitude toward dubbing and
subtitling (Bruls & Kerkman, 1989; Kilborn, 1993; Luyken
et al., 1991).
As we expected, there was a positive relationship be-
tween spatial presence, transportation, and flow. The me-
dium correlations between these concepts could reflect
common attention allocation toward the medium and the
suppression of distractors (see Mögerle et al., 2006; Wirth
et al., 2007). According to Schubert and Crusius (2002),
watching movies shares characteristics of both reading
books and exploring VRs since movies include narration
as well as visual sceneries.
The medium correlations we found here can be seen as
empirical evidence that the concepts are related. However,
if we do not interpret all the nonshared variance as error
variance, there seem to be conceptual differences. These
differences further suggest the simultaneous use of the
three concepts when immersion in television programs or
movies is an issue of research.
There is a positive correlation between enjoyment and
the dependent variables spatial presence, transportation,
and flow. We consider the differences in the amount of
shared variance to be noteworthy: The highest portion of
common variance with enjoyment is with transportation
(30%), ahead of flow (20%) and spatial presence (10%).
Causality, however, is not clear since we do not know
whether enjoyment is a precondition for immersion or vice
versa. Still, we think that these findings corroborate the
assumption of Wirth et al. (2007) that spatial presence can
enhance enjoyment. Green and Brock (2002) assume not
only transportation and flow to be related, but also trans-
portation and flow to enhance enjoyment. Given the fact
that transportation and enjoyment share the highest portion
of variance, it is possible that identification and immersion
into the narration are central in the context of watching
movies. These findings admittedly refer only to translated
movies. A comparison between original and translated
movies could be an issue of future research.
When interpreting the findings of our study it could be rel-
evant that our results should have external validity since
we used real motion pictures including professional dub-
bing and subtitling. In addition, our factor translation meth-
od resulted in identical effects over three different genres
and for three different psychological constructs. However,
two factors may restrict the generalization of our findings:
On the one hand, our participants (i.e., Swiss audience
members) are accustomed to both dubbing and subtitling.
On the other hand, it is plausible to assume that our sample
differsfrom the general population in terms of reading hab-
its and reading abilities. Future research should replicate
our experiment with various samples. It could be of partic-
ular interest to investigate our research issue in countries
where in contrast to Switzerland one translation method
isclearly preferred. Another limitation could lie in the mea-
sures used here. In the past, more comprehensive measures
to assess spatial presence (e.g., Vorderer et al., 2003) and
media enjoyment (e.g., Krcmar & Renfro, 2005) have been
suggested. We decided to use measures that are both well
established and quick to respond to. In future replications,
the existing measures should be carefully reviewed since
the measures in this field are improving continually. More-
over, the direct assessment of additional viewer character-
istics such as reading abilities, domain-specific interest,
cognitive involvement, and suspension of disbelief could
yield interesting findings.
Dubbing and subtitling seem to be similarly efficient trans-
lation techniques since audience members tolerate the spe-
cific drawbacks of both methods. Regardless of the genre,
122 B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling?
Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125 © 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
both methods allow for considerable immersion in origi-
nally foreign-language movies. There is no difference in
terms of enjoyment. In addition, spatial presence, transpor-
tation, flow, and enjoyment are positively related.
Biocca, F. (1997). The cyborg’s dilemma: Progressive embodi-
ment in virtual environments. Journal of Computer-Mediated
Communication, 3(2). Retrieved on March 3, 2005, from
Bocker, M., & Muhlbach, L. (1993). Communicative presence in
video communications. Proceedings of the Human Factors and
Ergonomics Society 37th annual meeting (pp. 249–253). Santa
Monica, CA: The Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Bortz, J., & Döring, N. (2003). Forschungsmethoden und Evalu-
ation [Research methods and evaluation]. Heidelberg: Spring-
Bosshart, L., & Macconi, I. (1998). Defining “entertainment.”
Communication Research Trends, 18(3), 36–41.
Bracken, C.C. (2002). Presence and image quality: The case of
highdefinition television. Presentedtotheinformation systems
division at the annual conference of the International Commu-
nication Association, Seoul, Korea.
Brenner, M. (Writer), & Mann, M. (Director). (1999). TheInsider
[motion picture]. USA: Buena Vista.
Bruls, E., & Kerkman, E. (1989). Beeld, spraak en schrift: On-
dertiteling van films en televisieprogrammas in Nederland
[Image, speech and text: Subtitling of movies and television
programs in the Netherlands]. In K.Dibbets et al. (Eds.), Jaar-
boek mediageschiedenis 1 [Mediahistorical yearbook 1]
(pp. 165–182). Amsterdam: Stichting Mediageschiedenis.
Bruner, J.S., & Postman, L. (1948). An approach to social per-
ception. In W. Dennis (Ed.), Current trends in social psychol-
ogy (pp. 71–118). Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh
Chi, B. (Writer), & Yimou, Z. (Director). (1999). Heimweg [The
road home] [motion picture]. VR China: Columbia Tristar.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975). Beyond boredom and anxiety. San
Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). The flow experience and its signif-
icance for human psychology. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I.
Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience: Psychological
studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 15–35). Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Cupchik, G.C., & Kemp, S. (2000). The esthetics of media fare.
In D.Zillmann& P.Vorderer (Eds.), Media entertainment:The
psychology of its appeal (pp. 249–265). Mahwah, NJ: Erl-
D’Ydewalle,G., & Pavakanun, U. (1997). Could enjoying a mov-
ie lead to language acquisition? In P. Winterhoff-Spurk & T.H.
van der Voort (Eds.), New horizons in media psychology
(pp. 145–55). Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
D’Ydewalle, G., & van de Poel, M. (1999). Incidental foreign-
language acquisition by children watching subtitled television
programs. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research,28, 227–244.
D’Ydewalle, G., Praet, C., Verfaillie, K., & van Rensbergen, J.
(1991). Watching subtitled television: Automatic reading be-
havior. Communication Research, 18, 650–66.
D’Ydewalle, G., van Rensbergen, J., & Pollet, J. (1987). Reading
a message when the same message is available auditorily in
another language: The case of subtitling. In J.K. O’Regan &
A. L’evy-Schoen (Eds.), Eye movements: From physiology to
cognition (pp. 313–321). Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Danan, M. (1989). Dubbing als een Uitdrukking van National-
isme [Dubbing as an expression of nationalism]. Communica-
tie, 19, 33–43.
Davidson, R.J. (2003). Seven sins in the study of emotion: Cor-
rectivesfrom affective neuroscience. Brain and Cognition, 52,
Draper, J.V., Kaber, D.B., & Usher, J.M. (1998). Telepresence.
Human Factors, 40, 354–375.
Gielen, M. (1988). Perceptie en Ondertitels: De Paravofeale en
Perifere Informatieverwerking van Ondertitels [Perception
and subtitles: The parafoveal and peripheral information pro-
cessing of subtitles]. Leuven: University of Leuven.
Gielen, M., & d’Ydewalle, G. (1989). Hoe Worden Ondertitelde
Televisieprogrammas Bekeken? [How are subtitledtelevision
programs watched?]. De Psycholoog, 1, 425–431.
Grabe, M.E., Lombard, M., Reich, R.D., Bracken, C.C., & Ditton,
T.B. (1999). Screen size and viewer responses to television: Re-
search findings. Visual Communication Quarterly, 6(2), 4–9.
Green, M.C., & Brock, T.C. (2000). The role of transportation in
the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 79, 701–721.
Green, M.C., & Brock, T.C. (2002). In the minds eye: Transpor-
tation-imagery model of narrative persuasion. In M.C. Green,
J.J.Strange, & T.C. Brock (Eds.),Narrativeimpact. Socialand
cognitive foundations (pp. 315–341). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
Green, M.C., Brock, T.C., & Kaufman, G.F. (2004). Understand-
ing media enjoyment: The role of transportation into narrative
worlds. Communication Theory, 14, 311–327.
Greeson,L.E. (1991). Recognitionand ratings of televisionmusic
videos: Age, gender, and sociocultural effects. Journal of Ap-
plied Social Psychology, 21, 1908–1920
Hartmann, T., Böcking, S., Schramm, H., Wirth, W., Klimmt, C., &
Vorderer, P.(2005). RäumlichePräsenzals Rezeptionsmodalität:
Ein theoretisches Modell zur Entstehung von Präsenzerleben.
[Spatial presence as a reception mode: A theoretical model to
understand spatial presence]. In V. Gehrau, H. Bilandzic, & J.
Woelke (Eds.), Rezeptionsstrategien und Rezeptionsmodalitäten
[Strategies and modalities in reception] (pp. 21–37). München:
Heeter, C. (1992).Being there: The subjective experience of pres-
ence. Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 1,
Heeter, C. (2003). Reflections on real presence by a virtual person.
Hegarty, M., Richardson, A.E., Montello, D.R., Lovelace, K., &
Subbiah, I., (2002). Development of a self-report measure of
environmental spatial ability. Intelligence, 30, 425–447.
Ijsselsteijn, W.A., de Ridder, H., Freeman, J., & Avons, S.E.
(2000). Presence: Concept, determinants, and measurement.
Human Vision and Electronic Imaging V, 39, 59–76.
Ijsselsteijn, W.A., Freeman, J., & de Ridder, H. (2001). Presence:
Where are we? CyberPsychology and Behavior, 4, 179–182.
Katz, E., & Foulkes, D. (1962). On the use of mass media for
B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling? 123
© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125
escape: Clarification of a concept. Public Opinion Quarterly,
26, 377–388.
Kilborn, R. (1993). Speak my language: Current attitudes to tele-
vision subtitling and dubbing. Media, Culture and Society, 15,
Kim, T., & Biocca, F. (1997). Telepresence via television: Two
dimensions of telepresence may have different connections to
memory and persuasion. Journal of Computer-Mediated Com-
munication, 3(2). Retrieved December 12, 2005, from
Klimmt, C., & Vorderer, P. (2003). Media Psychology “is not yet
there.” Presence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 12,
Knobloch, S., & Zillmann, D. (2002). Mood management via the
digital jukebox. Journal of Communication, 52, 351–366.
Koolstra, C.M., & Beentjes, J.W. (1999). Children’s vocabulary
acquisition in a foreign language through watching subtitled
TV programs at home. Educational Technology Research and
Development, 47, 51–60.
Koolstra,C.M., Peeters,A.L., & Spinhof, H. (2002). The pros and
cons of dubbing and subtitling. European Journal of Commu-
nication, 17, 325–354.
Krcmar, M., & Renfro, S.L. (2005, May). Developing a scale to
assessmedia enjoyment.Paper presentedat theannual meeting
of the International Communication Association, New York
Launer, D. (Writer), & Lynn, J. (Director). (1992). Mein Vetter
Winnie [My cousin vinny] [motion picture]. USA: Fox.
Lombard, M. (1995). Direct responses to people on the screen:
Television and personal space. Communication Research, 22,
Lombard, M., & Ditton, T.B. (1997). At the heart of it all: The
concept of presence. Journal of Computer-Mediated Commu-
nication, 3(2). Retrieved November 25, 2005, from http://
Lombard, M., Ditton, T.B., Grabe, M.E., & Reich, R.D. (1997).
The role of screen size in viewer responses to television fare.
Communication Reports, 10(1), 95–106.
Luyken, G., Herbst, T., Langham-Brown, J., Reid, H., & Spinhof,
H. (1991). Overcoming language barriers in television: Dub-
bing and subtitling for the European audience. Manchester:
European Institute for the Media.
Mailhac, J.P. (2000, October). Subtitling and dubbing, for better
or for worse? The English video versions of Gazon Maudit.
Paper presented at the Third International Conference and Ex-
hibition on Converging Markets and Multimedia: Berlin.
Mangnus, J., Hoeken H., & van Driel, H. (1994). De Schaar van
Wember en Ondertiteling: Experimenteel Onderzoek naar de
Informatie-overdracht van Ondertitelde en Nederlands
Gesproken Documentaires [The scissors of Wember and sub-
titling: Experimental research on information processing of
subtitled and Dutch spoken documentaries]. Communicatie,
24, 1–11.
Marleau, L. (1982). Les sous-titers . . . un mal nécessaire. [Subti-
tles . . . a necessary evil]. Meta, 27, 271–285.
Marsi, E. (1999). Taalmythen (2): De ene Taal wordt Sneller
Gesproken dan de Andere [Myths in languages (2): One lan-
guage is spoken faster thanthe other]. Onze Taal, 68, 190–193.
Minsky, M. (1980). Telepresence. Omni, 2(9), 45–51.
Mögerle, U., Böcking, S., Wirth, W., & Schramm, H. (2006). Un-
terhaltungserleben in virtuellen Medien. Die Rolle von Me-
dien- und Rezipienteneigenschaften beim Entstehen von Spa-
tial Presence. [Digital media and entertainment. The effects of
media-characteristics and user-characteristics on spatial pres-
ence]. In H. Schramm, W. Wirth, & H. Bilandzic (Eds.), Em-
pirische Unterhaltungsforschung: Studien zu Rezeption und
Wirkung von medialer Unterhaltung [Investigating media en-
tertainment: Empirical studies on reception and effects on en-
tertainment] (pp. 87–106). München: Fischer Verlag.
Muth, L. (1996). Das Leseglück als Flow-Erlebnis. [The joy of
g as a flow experience]. In A. Bellebaum & L. Muth
(Eds.), Leseglück [The joy of reading] (pp. 57–81). Opladen:
Westdeutscher Verlag.
Neuman, W.R. (1990). Beyond HDTV: Exploring subjective re-
sponses to very high definition television (Research report).
Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Me-
dia Lab.
Öhman, A. (1979). The orienting response, attention, and learn-
ing: An information processing perspective. In H.D. Kimmel,
E.H. van Olst, & J.F. Orlebeke (Eds.), The orienting reflex in
humans (pp. 443–471). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Pavakanun, U., & d’Ydewalle, G. (1992). Watching foreign tele-
vision programs and language learning. In F.L. Engel, D.G.
Bouwhuis, T. Bösser,& G. d’Ydewalle (Eds.), Cognitive mod-
eling and interactive environments in language learning
(pp. 193–198). Berlin: Springer.
Reeves, B., Detenber, B., & Steuer, J. (1993, May). New televi-
sions: The effects of big pictures and big sound on viewer re-
sponses to the screen. Paper presented to the Information Sys-
tems Division at the annual meeting of the International
Communication Association, Washington, DC.
Rheinberg, F., Vollmeyer, R., & Engeser, S. (2003). Die Erfassung
des Flow-Erlebens [The assessment of flow experiences.]. In J.
Stiensmeier-Pelster & F. Rheinberg (Eds.), Diagnostik von Mo-
tivation und Selbstkonzept [Assessment of motivation and self-
concept] (pp. 261–279). Göttingen: Hogrefe.
Schubert, T.W., & Crusius, J. (2002). Five theses on the book
problem. Presence in books, film, and VR. In F.R. Gouveia &
F. Biocca (Eds.), PRESENCE 2002 Proceedings of the fifth
international workshop on Presence (pp. 53–59). Porto, Por-
tugal: Universidad Fernando Pessoa.
Schweizerische Radio- und Fernsehgesellschaft. (2006a). Jahres-
bericht 2005 [Annual report 2005]. Bern: Forschungsdienst
SRG SSR idée suisse.
Schweizerische Radio-und Fernsehgesellschaft.(2006b). Zahlen,
Daten, Fakten 2006 [Numbers, data, facts 2006]. Bern: Unter-
nehmenskommunikation SRG SSR idée suisse.
Sherry, J.L. (2004). Flow and media enjoyment. Communication
Theory, 14, 328–347.
Sohl, G. (1989). Het Verwerken van de Vreemdtalige Gesproken
Tekst in een Ondertiteld TV-programma [Processing foreign-
language text in a subtitled television program]. Leuven: Ka-
tholieke Universiteit Leuven.
Sparks, G.G., & Sparks, C.W. (2000). Violence, mayhem, and
horror. In D. Zillmann & P. Vorderer (Eds.), Media entertain-
ment: The psychology of its appeal (pp. 73–92). Mahwah, NJ:
Spinhof, H., & Peeters, A.L. (1999). Opinies over Nasynchroniz-
eren en Ondertitelen [Opinions about dubbing and subtitling].
Hilversum: NOS.
Steuer, J. (1992). Defining virtual reality: Dimensions determin-
ing telepresence. Journal of Communication, 42, 72–92.
124 B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling?
Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125 © 2009 Hogrefe Publishing
Visch, T., & Tan, E. (2008). Narrative versus style: Effect of
genre-typicaleventsversus genre-typicalfilmicrealizations on
film viewers’ genre recognition. Poetics, 36, 301–315.
Voiskounsky, A.E., Mitina, O.V., & Avetisova,A.A. (2004). Play-
ing online games: Flow experience. PsychoNology Journal, 2,
Vorderer, P., Klimmt, C., & Ritterfeld, U. (2004). Enjoyment: At
the heart of media entertainment. Communication Theory, 4,
Vorderer, P., Wirth, W., Saari, T., Gouveia, F.R., Biocca, F., Jäncke,
F.etal.(2003).Constructing presence:Towarda two-levelmodel
of the formation of spatial presence. Unpublished report to the
European Community, Project Presence: MEC (IST-
2001–37661). Hannover, Munich, Helsinki, Porto, Zurich.
Weibel, D., Wissmath, B., Habegger, S. Steiner, Y., & Groner, R.
(2008). Playing online games against computer versus human
controlled opponents: Effects on presence, flow, and enjoy-
ment. Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 2274–2291.
Wirth, W., Hartmann, T., Böcking, S., Vorderer, P., Klimmt, C.,
Schramm, H. et al. (2007). A process model of the formation of
Spatial Presence experiences. Media Psychology, 9, 493–525.
Zeltzer, D. (1992). Autonomy, interaction, and presence. Pres-
ence: Teleoperators and Virtual Environments, 1, 127–132.
Zillmann, D. (1988). Mood management: Using entertainment
to full advantage. In L. Donohew, H.E. Sypher, & E.T.
Higgins (Eds.), Communication, social cognition, and affect
(pp. 147–171). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Zillmann, D., & Bryant, J. (1994). Entertainment as media effect.
In J. Bryant & D. Zillmann (Eds.), Media effects: Advances in
theory and research (pp. 437–461). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Date of acceptance: June 6, 2009
BartholomäusWissmath is a re-
search associate in the Depart-
ment of Psychology, University
of Bern, Switzerland. His re-
search interests focus on human
experiences and behavior in the
contextof virtual environments,
in particular the sensation of
(tele-)presence, transportation,
and flow experiences. In his
dissertation, he investigated the
relationshipof these conceptsin
the context of movies.
Bartholomäus Wissmath
University of Bern
Department of Psychology
Muesmattstrasse 45
CH-3000 Bern 9
David Weibel is a research as-
sociate in the Department of
Psychology at University of
Bern and in the Department of
Psychology at the Swiss Uni-
versity of Distance Education,
Switzerland. His research inter-
estsinclude mediaeffects,cred-
ibility, traditional media, and
new media technologies.
Rudolf Groner is Professor
Emeritus in the Department of
Psychology at University of
Bern and lecturer in the Depart-
ment of Psychology at the
Swiss University of Distance
Education, Switzerland. He is
director of the IFeL Institute
for Research in Open-, Dis-
tance- and eLearning. His re-
search interests include media
studies,eye movements, usabil-
ity, and heuristics.
B. Wissmath et al.: Dubbing or Subtitling? 125
© 2009 Hogrefe Publishing Journal of Media Psychology 2009; Vol. 21(3):114–125
... Although previous research has compared the effects of subtitling versus dubbing on various cognitive and evaluative measures (e.g., Koolstra et al., 2002;Matamala et al., 2017;Perego et al., 2015), there has been limited investigation into how different translation methods affect the emotional experience in response to films. Only a few studies have examined the effect of translation method on specific emotional experiences such as viewer enjoyment (Riniolo & Capuana, 2022;Wissmath et al., 2009). Thus, one further practical aim of the present study was to explore how these two types of methods influence the emotional experience in response to film clips. ...
... One further contribution of the present study was the preliminary findings on the role of translation methods in the success of emotion elicitation. Previous research has found no significant difference between subtitling and dubbing in most cognitive and evaluative measures (e.g., Matamala et al., 2017;Perego et al., 2015;Wissmath et al., 2009), and the viewer enjoyment (e.g., Wissmath et al., 2009; but see Riniolo & Capuana, 2022). The present study contributed to this research area by providing preliminary evidence that subtitling and dubbing were also comparable methods in terms of emotion elicitation. ...
... One further contribution of the present study was the preliminary findings on the role of translation methods in the success of emotion elicitation. Previous research has found no significant difference between subtitling and dubbing in most cognitive and evaluative measures (e.g., Matamala et al., 2017;Perego et al., 2015;Wissmath et al., 2009), and the viewer enjoyment (e.g., Wissmath et al., 2009; but see Riniolo & Capuana, 2022). The present study contributed to this research area by providing preliminary evidence that subtitling and dubbing were also comparable methods in terms of emotion elicitation. ...
Full-text available
Previous research has shown that the use of short flm clips is one of the most successful and widely-used methods of emotion elicitation. Nevertheless, there is a high degree of audiovisual variation across flm clips, resulting in a trade-of in terms of controllability. To address this complexity, the present study aimed to investigate the potential efects of sound and color on flm clips’ emotion-elicitation levels. For this purpose, four diferent flm clips were selected for each of the eight emotion categories: amusement, tenderness, calmness, anger, sadness, disgust, fear, and neutrality. All flm clips were manipulated in terms of features of sound (sound versus silent)×color (color versus BW). In total, 128 flm clips were tested online on various parameters: intensity of target emotion, valence, arousal, discreteness, and non-target emotions. The results revealed that sound was a mild contributing factor in increasing the degree of target emotions and evoking less boredom and more interest. However, color efects were less pronounced in emotion-elicitation using flm clips. Furthermore, the study provided preliminary evidence that for most of the flm clips, there was no signifcant diference in emotional reactivity in response to subtitled versus dubbed flm clips. In conclusion, the current study showed that flm clips (with a few exceptions) can evoke moderate to high levels of emotions independent of their bottom-up features, such as sound or color.
... However, the current common solution to crosslanguage live video streaming is to use automatic simultaneous interpretation (Müller et al., 2016;Wang et al., 2016;Franceschini et al., 2020;Bojar et al., 2021) to display translated subtitles. Reading subtitles at the bottom of the screen is uncomfortable and degrades the viewing experience (Wissmath et al., 2009). ...
... No obstante, son varios los autores (Wissmath y Groner 2009;Nornes 2007, etc.) que comentan que, en muchas ocasiones, la elección de los espectadores depende en gran medida de la modalidad a la que están acostumbrados, aquella con la que han crecido o con la que se sienten más cómodos en función del tipo de producto que consumen. Y, del mismo modo, si se observa un cambio en países tradicionalmente subtituladores en favor de otras modalidades como el doblaje, también se percibe que en muchos países donde los espectadores se habían venido decantando por el doblaje, cada vez se consumen más subtítulos (Chaume 2013). ...
Este trabajo estudia la percepción y preferencias de traducción de los elementos culturales por parte de estudiantes hispanoparlantes, siendo espectadores y traductores, en el doblaje de la serie Valeria (Torrente y Reguera 2020), para finalmente analizar las soluciones ofrecidas por Netflix. Nuestro objetivo es enriquecer la práctica profesional de la traducción audiovisual al inglés mediante el análisis comparativo de los resultados. Esto puede ser útiles para los traductores hispanoparlantes, que habitualmente transcriben las producciones españolas y crean la plantilla en la lengua original, proponiendo además una primera versión en inglés que luego revisa un traductor angloparlante. Los resultados muestran el grado de coincidencia en la percepción y las técnicas de traducción elegidas por los actores del proceso, responsables de que los elementos culturales viajen con éxito.
... Other studies comparing the impact of dubbing and subtitling on audience engagement have revealed that both modalities are equally effective from a cognitive and evaluative point of view (Wissmath et al., 2009;Perego et al., 2015;Rader et al., 2016;Matamala et al., 2017;Perego et al., 2018). Nevertheless, more recent research by Riniolo and Capuana (2020) has provided evidence on how viewers unaccustomed to consuming dubbed fiction tend to report greater enjoyment when watching the subtitled version of a particular program. ...
Full-text available
Although dubbing has traditionally been associated with the so-called dubbing countries, the advent of digitalisation and streaming is nowadays encouraging the consumption of dubbed content across territories unaccustomed to watching foreign fiction with dubs, such as the Anglophone market. Despite the effort put into drawing in a wide and satisfied audience in these countries, an unfavourable response from some viewers has called into question the quality of English dubbed versions and the odds of forging a consolidated dubbing industry in such regions. The main aim of this article is to offer insights into how poor quality and the lack of a long professional tradition might compromise engagement and cinematic illusion and into how the lack of exposure to this mode might have a negative impact on the way the dubbed content is received and enjoyed by English users. The article also intends to discuss the many ways in which quality and habituation affect the dubbing experience. This is done by exploring both the potential constraints that impair the final version and the factors that encourage an amenable attittude to this mode amongst the audience, despite their inexperience as dubbing consumers. The conclusions stress the need to enhance English dubbing quality at different levels and the importance of habituation to make dubbing work from a cognitive, linguistic, and prosodic standpoint.
... Traditionally, English-speaking countries have not been included by scholars on the list of so-called Following this mushrooming of non-English language media productions, dubbing audiovisual productions into English has become an emerging field of research. Although some authors claim that audiences tend to prefer the translation method they are accustomed to (i.e., the one they have grown up with and are best acquainted with; Nornes, 2007;Wissmath et al., 2009), the reality is that many dubbing-oriented countries are currently consuming more and more subtitles (Chaume, 2019), and subtitling-oriented countries are also experiencing a "dubbing revolution" (Moore, 2018, in Ranzato & Zanotti, 2019 or "dubbing resurge" (Sánchez-Mompeán, 2021, p. 180). However, in countries less habituated to dubbing, viewers seem to feel a stronger "dubby effect", which has been described as anything that is not speech-like or is conspicuously out of time with how actors' mouths are moving onscreen (Goldsmith, 2019, in Sánchez-Mompeán, 2021 and can break the "suspension of linguistic disbelief " (Romero-Fresco, 2009, p. 49). ...
Full-text available
Streaming video-on-demand (SVoD) platforms have recently set out to produce an ever-increasing number of non-English-language films and tv series distributed worldwide. These, in turn, have become the perfect vehicle for disseminating cultural realities other than those from English-speaking countries. In this article, we endeavour to analyse the presence of stereotypes and cultural references in the English-dubbed version of the Spanish tv series Valeria (Benítez, 2020–present) and the way they travel through dubbing. To this end, we conducted a comparative study in which seven video excerpts from the English-dubbed version and their original Spanish version were shown to 57 native English-speaking participants from a British higher education institution, who shared a similar knowledge of Spanish as a foreign language. Specifically, we explored the participants’ overall perception of humorous passages, their identification of cultural references, their informed opinion on the translation techniques applied (and alternatives given), and their self-assessment of the metacognitive effort required. The findings show two aspects of learners: (a) overall, these learners were eager to maintain stereotypes and cultural references used for humorous purposes in audiovisual comedies, and (b) their understanding of these items often relies on audiovisual support. The findings offer an initial examination of English speakers’ cognitive and evaluative perception of Spanish comedies that have been dubbed in English and can be useful for translator training purposes.
... Cognitive load is generally understood as the total amount of mental effort that the working memory expends during a task (Chandler and Sweller 1991). Very high levels of cognitive load (i.e., cognitive overload) are often perceived as unpleasant by media users (Drolet and Luce 2004;Mayer and Moreno 2003) and can have further inadvertent consequences, such as the reduction of flow (Wissmath et al. 2009), user satisfaction (Hu et al. 2017), and performance quality (e.g., memory performance; Roettl and Terlutter 2018). ...
Full-text available
Faced with the ongoing diversification and commercial success of highly immersive media technologies (e.g., VR headsets), both content producers and scientific scholars have become highly invested in understanding the psychological consequences of experiencing media in these new and lifelike ways. While many studies underscore positive effects of high media immersivity—such as increased enjoyment or persuasive success—others warn about the intense cognitive load that technologies such as VR might put on their users. In a laboratory experiment with N = 121 participants, we compare the cognitive load experienced while watching a 360° video on a laptop screen or via an immersive VR head-mounted display. Furthermore, we scrutinize two prominent explanations for the additional cognitive load in immersive media settings, i.e., the role of spatial presence and cybersickness. As expected, the VR condition results in higher cognitive load, spatial presence, and cybersickness than the 2D condition. However, by means of a parallel mediation model, we observe that only cybersickness emerges as a meaningful mediator of participants' strained cognitive capacity; spatial presence, on the other hand, remains statistically irrelevant in this regard. We discuss our findings considering implications for media producers and future research.
Pragmatic markers are recognised to be a fundamental aspect of spoken language, in particular conversation, as they allow the processing of information within a specific context by providing the addressee with cues on how to interpret utterances. As far as audiovisual dialogue is concerned, pragmatic markers are considered as a hallmark of naturalness and orality which is fundamental to ensure the audience’s immersion in the world represented on screen. Thanks to both distributional and translation-oriented analysis of corpus data, the paper aims to compare the use of pragmatic markers in anglophone, dubbed Italian and original Italian film dialogues as well as highlight the strategies employed in translating English pragmatic markers into dubbed Italian.
The aim of this article is to investigate the additional layer of text on screen present in Eugene Kotlyarenko’s Spree (2020) and explore the translator’s perspective on the incorporation of such elements. The article discusses the participatory chat messaging systems accompanying live video of today and attempts to place them within an existing framework of text on screen as understood in audiovisual translation (AVT) and media accessibility (MA) studies as well as previous screen productions. The relationship between audience involvement and presence of modes of AVT is then explored to better highlight the importance of translation in audience reception. The authors characterize dynamic chat elements in the analysed movie to point to potential implications that further incorporation of elements of massive chat into filmic narratives might have for conventional modes of AVT, in particular for subtitling.
What constitutes enjoyment of life? Optimal Experience offers a comprehensive survey of theoretical and empirical investigations of the 'flow' experience, a desirable or optimal state of consciousness that enhances a person's psychic state. The authors show the diverse contexts and circumstances in which flow is reported in different cultures, and describe its positive emotional impacts. They reflect on ways in which the ability to experience flow affects work satisfaction, academic success, and the overall quality of life
In Experiment 1, subjects reported on the speed of three presentation times of subtitles (4-, 6- and 8-seconds rules), with the 6-seconds rule as the one used by most TV stations (normal presentation time). In Experiment 2, three time rules (2-, 4- and 6-seconds rule) were used in three different tapes of the same movie and the eye movements were recorded. Subjects did or did not master the spoken language; a third group did not receive the sound track. The findings suggest that, under normal presentation time, time spent in reading the subtitle does not change as a function of the knowledge and the availability of the spoken language, due to the longstanding experiences of our subjects with such a presentation time. A number of episodic effects of the movie are to be explained by their confounding with the number of lines in the subtitle: As the time to switch from the movie to the subtitle is more or less the same in all cases, more viewing time is available with two lines. In general, processing of subtitles seems to be an automatic or “encapsulated” activity, at least if it is not disturbed by abnormal presentation times.
An experiment was conducted to extend the research evidence concerning direct responses to the realm of social interaction by replicating, in the context of television viewing, key findings and predictions concerning the use of interpersonal distance. In the study, 32 subjects watched excerpts of television news broadcasts that featured individual anchors speaking to the camera. Apparent interpersonal distance was manipulated via viewing distance (close = 10, 24, and 38 inches; normal = 30, 72, and 115 inches) and screen size (small = 10 inches measured diagonally; medium = 26 inches; large = 42 inches). Although results for the viewing distance manipulation failed to support predictions, as expected, subjects watching larger television screens reported more positive emotional responses to the people on the screen and the viewing environment and selected a viewing position that represented a smaller withdrawal from the encounter. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed.