Whether or not an online story has multimedia included, it does not strongly affect emotional reactions or immersion into the story. A new article by Hanna Pincus and Magdalena Wojcieszak of the University of Amsterdam and Hajo Boomgarden of the University of Vienna dives into effects of multimedia.
The authors did an experiment showing participants three versions of an online news story, each with identical content, but differing in modality and layout. They measured effects on three dimensions: readers’ knowledge gain, emotional reactions, and narrative transportation.
Contrary to authors’ initial expectations, the effects of modality are minor. The audiences’ emotional reactions (anxiety or anger) and narrative transportation do not depend on modality. Though, those exposed to embedded multimedia stories did score higher when measuring emotions. Knowledge gain is even decreased by multimodality: those participants who read the text-only version learned slightly more about the topic.
The authors conclude that although modality did not have great effects, modality may affect whether or not audience members choose to attend to a news story in the first place.
The article “Do Multimedia Matter?” was recently published in Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly and is available online (free abstract).
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