Loud commentary and cell phone fumbling may be distracting, but new research suggests that the presence of other people may enhance our movie-watching experiences. Over the course of the film, movie-watchers influence one another and gradually synchronize their emotional responses. This mutual mimicry also affects each participant’s evaluation of the overall experience — the more in sync we are with the people around us, the more we like the movie.
This study is not that surprising for those interested in affect research. It is not just the Daily Science representation of the research that conflates affect with emotion; the article abstract also conflates the two separate concepts. Affect circulates across bodies, but enjoyment is an affection produced by the integration of the feeling of the affect with the conceptual prehension of its temporally-specific being (futurity, present, memory).