We count words in film subtitle files in an attempt to reveal morally relevant patterns of linguistic content. We argue that function words (e.g., pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions) should be positively associated with thought-provoking narrative forms. To test this hypothesis, we associate function words to aggregate measures of film viewership and appraisals. Results suggest that function words are negatively associated with measures of viewership but positively associated with appraisals. As such, our finding is consistent with the idea that function words are more likely to occur in narrative forms that audiences value more than they actually consume. We relate this finding to past research, which has shown the same pattern for hedonic versus meaningful entertainment gratifications. Discussion centers on implications for recent theorizing in this area.
- Entertainment Theory
- Linguistic Inquiry Word Count
- Mass Communication
- Moral Psychology