When the physical coldness in the viewer's environment leads to identification with a suffering protagonist

Nurit Tal-Or, Irene Razpurker-Apfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Based on theories of narrative engagement and embodied cognition, we hypothesised that a fit between the psychological state of a protagonist and the physical sensation of the viewer would enhance the subsequent identification with the protagonist, but not para-social relationship with him (seeing the protagonist as a friend). We also hypothesised that identification and a para-social relationship would lead to distinct effects on attitudes related to the narrative. Participants (N = 60) were randomly assigned to either a warmed or cooled room where they watched a movie clip alone in which a suffering protagonist wanted to undergo euthanasia while his close others wanted him to stay alive. Then, the participants answered a questionnaire measuring their identification and para-social relationship with the protagonist and their attitudes toward euthanasia. In accordance with the hypotheses, the results demonstrated that feeling cold enhanced identification with the suffering protagonist. However, the environmental temperature did not affect the development of para-social relationships. Moreover, identification with the suffering protagonist contributed to acceptance of his attitudes, reflected in more positive views of euthanasia. In contrast, having a para-social relationship with the protagonist resulted in negative attitudes toward euthanasia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-406
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 International Union of Psychological Science


  • Embodied cognition
  • Identification
  • Narrative persuasion
  • Para-social relationship
  • Temperature

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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