Journal article

The Role of Cliffhangers in Serial Entertainment : An Experiment on Cliffhangers’ Effects on Enjoyment, Arousal, and Intention to Continue Watching


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  • 2022
Published in:
  • Psychology of Popular Media. - 2023, vol. 12, no. 2, p. 186-196
English Cliffhangers are a common style element in serial entertainment. This study investigates their role in today’s high-choice media environment. It is assumed that cliffhangers lead to higher arousal, increase the enjoyment of a series, and foster the intention to continue watching. This may foster binge-watching or, more generally, high-intensity viewing of TV shows. In a laboratory experiment, individuals (N = 133) were exposed to 3 to 4 episodes of a drama series, eventually finishing either with or without a cliffhanger. Participants’ arousal, enjoyment of the show, and intention to continue watching the series were measured via self-report and psychophysiological measures (electrodermal activity and cortisol levels). The results suggest that cliffhangers lead to higher arousal but do not increase enjoyment or the intention to continue watching.
Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales et du management, Faculté des lettres et des sciences humaines
Département des sciences de la communication et des médias, Département de Psychologie
  • English
Information, communication and media sciences
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