Hero Or Villain: the Role of Human Intuition in Recognizing the Nature of Characters

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Human intuition plays a significant role in the first impression a person or character makes. In this academic paper Grizzard et al. present the idea that “moral judgments of characters and disposition formation—facilitated by the activation of character-schema (e.g., hero/villain)—might occur prior to the observation of behavior. (Grizzard et al.,479)”. In other words, Grizzard et al. argue that the audience makes an assumption on a character based on appearance before that character can prove the audience right or wrong in their assumptions via their behavior/actions. To gather evidence Grizzard et al. began Study 1 where “we created two characters that were designed to vary in the extent to which they represented visual characteristics associated with hero and villain schema. (Grizzard et al., 482).

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An effort to collect data on hero and villain schemas was also made according to Grizzard et al. “Participants were recruited from communication courses at a large university in the northeastern United States and received course credit for participation. Data collection occurred from April 27 to May 1, 2015 (Grizzard et al. , 482).” A not so surprising conclusion was made, the CGI character who had a more “friendly” or “tolerant” expression was classified as the protagonist or a “good guy” and the character model with a stern facial expression and sharper features was classified by the individuals being surveyed as “violent” or “mad”.

Grizzard et al. provide a decent point as to what a general audience would describe a hero or a villain to look like. Knowing that the human brain is similar to that of a sponge in our infancy we begin to associate physical characteristics and personality traits to people. Along with the influence of pop culture and an array of available information through the internet and written literature, our definition of a villain or hero begins to take shape. This academic paper builds on its argument through the testing of their hypothesis via a personality trait criteria and CGI character model examination survey.

Although this hypothesis was tested to the best of their ability through means of surveying and other methods, one cannot deny the difference of a hypothesis vs fact. This research, however, is considered anecdotal evidence in regard to the sample size. Such a constrained sample size can provide misleading statistics which can be a disservice to the entire experimentation of a hypothesis. Empirical evidence with proper supporting data ideally with a larger sample size would be ideal in this case. Apart from the lack of credible empirical evidence, another fault would be the redundancy of Grizzard et al. When discussing a topic such a character perception, redundancy is difficult to avoid and this academic paper is no exception. Human beings make assumptions all the time especially based on appearance, therefore, the theory that an audience would make an assumption of a character-based off their physical appearance is not very surprising.

One area Grizzard et al. did well with is the use of outside sources in order to contribute to the formation of their argument. The use of sources at the appropriate time to properly add to your points can provide fluidity to your paper and create better transitions into your next point. Balancing the use of citations in text is important, having multiple citations in a short paragraph with little to no input from you may leave the audience with a desire for a more in-depth explanation of the cited text.

Works Cited

  1. Grizzard, Matthew & Huang, Jialing & Fitzgerald, Kaitlin & Ahn, Changhyun & Chu,
  2. Haoran. (2017). Sensing Heroes and Villains: Character-Schema and the Disposition Formation Process. Communication Research. 45. 009365021769993. 10.1177/0093650217699934. Accessed September 24, 2019.  

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