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Sky+HD reveals the science behind movie tears


A new study by Sky+HD and Professor Kim A. Bard from the University of Portsmouth has revealed the science behind why movies have us reaching the tissues.

Through identifying the key factors which set tears rolling, Professor Bard can now unveil the top ten movie tearjerkers of all time with ’Beaches’ taking the top spot and explain how watching them in more detail in high definition can make us cry even more.

Professor Bard, a psychologist at the Centre of the Study of Emotion at the University of Portsmouth, analysed a selection of movies in both HD and standard definition identifying four key triggers that set lips quivering and eyes streaming. These include how often the characters wept (Tear Count), the overall sadness of the movie (Sadness Index) and the underlying positive message of the film (Inspirational Index), all moderated by the degree of happiness experienced (Happy Highs). Her study also revealed how, when used in the right combination, these elements can produce an intensive emotional experience and that is intensified even further when movies are watched in high definition.

Professor Bard said: "Watching tearjerkers in high definition is more emotive than standard viewing because with high definition the actions of the face associated with sadness and with teariness are much more clearly evident.

“This ranges from the very subtle drawing in and downward movements of the inner eyebrows and the glistening of tears, to the more obvious full crying face. In high definition, each teardrop as well as the tracks of tears streaming down the face are more visible, engendering sadness and even tears in ourselves through the dual process of facial mimicry, where we mimic the character’s expression on our own face, leading to emotion contagion, where we feel the associated emotion to the expression being mimicked.”

Beaches came out at the top of the survey followed closely by The Colour Purple, Schindler’s List and Philadelphia.

Michelle Golding from Sky+HD said: “There’s no better way to watch a movie at home than in high definition. Sky+HD doesn’t just make images clearer, it makes the whole experience more intense.”

About Sky
Sky TV operates the most comprehensive multichannel, multi-platform television service in the UK and Ireland. More than 9.4 million homes enjoy an unprecedented choice of movies, news, entertainment and sports channels. Sky continues to break new ground with its own portfolio of channels: Sky Movies, Sky1 combines its commitment to UK production with the best of the US; Sky Arts continues to embrace new audiences as the UK’s only dedicated arts channel brand; Sky Sports is still raising the bar in sports broadcasting; and Sky News remains a pioneer in multiplatform television news.

More than 5 million Sky homes now enjoy the control and flexibility of Sky+ and 1.3 million homes have already joined Sky+HD, which provides access to 34 dedicated HD channels. Sky is also the UK’s fastest growing broadband and fixed-telephony provider.

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