Dawn M. Sarno



Document Type



Despite the recent rise in the popularity of 3D entertainment technology, there is surprisingly little research on the psychophysiological experience of watching 3D movies. Previous studies suggest that exposure to stereoscopic (3D) images in training environments (e.g., flight simulators) can cause discomforts including eyestrain and visually induced motion sickness. However, existing research on 3D entertainment has been mixed and has relied primarily on retrospective, non-experimental research designs, which do not allow us to draw clear causal conclusions. The purpose of this study was to examine the psychological and physiological effects of viewing 3D movies using a controlled, manipulated experiment. Eighty-two participants were randomly assigned to watch a segment of a nature movie in either stereoscopic (3D) or standard (2D) format and were measured on their psychological and physiological experiences. A multivariate analysis of covariance (MANCOVA) revealed statistically significant adverse effects of the 3D movie format. Specifically, watching a movie segment in 3D resulted in significantly more ocular discomfort (e.g., eyestrain) and feelings of disorientation compared to watching the same segment in 2D. Most notably, these results were observed after controlling for an individual’s self-reported level of intolerance for physical discomfort and pre-existing attitudes towards 3D movies. Interestingly, although nausea is often reported anecdotally in reaction to 3D movies, we did not find significant effects of the 3D format on feelings of nausea. These results suggest that the direct psychophysiological experience of 3D movies is complex and continued research is necessary to improve the comfort and safety of consumers.



Thesis Comittee

Brendan Morse (Thesis Director)

Melissa Singer

Michelle Mamberg

Caroline Stanley

Copyright and Permissions

Original document was submitted as an Honors Program requirement. Copyright is held by the author.

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Psychology Commons