Abstract. Film music scholars, composers, directors, and audiences have always implicitly believed that music can help determine the focus of an audience’s visual attention, but researchers have not as yet been able to prove this empirically. Eyetracking research—the process of measuring either the point of gaze or the motion of the eyes—has grown exponentially in recent years. This paper reports on a foundational, empirical eye-tracking study that examined the effects of contextual musical attributes on visual attention, emotion, and user experience during exploration tasks in moving images. Our results show that music is able to direct how we see by quickly switching attention to target foci as well as lengthening fixations, and that music can also encourage exploration of visual scenes outside targets. Our work contributes the first step in understanding how music shapes visual attention using eye-tracking techniques. We encourage wider adoption of this approach, given its potential to enhance understanding of the complex processes of audiovisual perception in action.

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