Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Kuleshov effect (wikipedia.org)
151 points by petethomas on Jan 2, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 31 comments

Perhaps this has been studied before, but this might be relevant in advertising as well. The book "Pre-suasion" by Robert Cialdini describes how for example, showing certain imagery before asking a person to make a choice produces specified effects - for example, showing flags before posing a question usually elicits a response that tends to be more aligned with Republican viewpoints.

I wonder how is the lack of this effect connected to autism.

I wonder about this as well. That example on Wikipedia had no effect on me. On the other hand could it be the advertising industry using it too much and some people getting "anesthetized" to it? I don't think it's autism for me because generally I'm hyper aware of people's emotions.

Apparently the study could be replicated (with a neutral expression as shown in the example). Given that, I think it's unlikely that anyone is unaffected.

I have two hypotheses:

a) It may be a kind of hindsight bias. You watched the video in the context of an article on the Kuleshov effect and knew it was the same neutral expression each time.

b) You cannot gage the mood of the embedded scene and thus cannot transfer it onto the encasing scene. The end result is that you are not affected in this instance. But it would not be because of some immunity to the Kuleshov effect itself.

I came to the comments specifically to make a similar point and was glad to see people already addressing it. I (diagnosed ASD) watched the video on Wikipedia and thought it was weird he had the same neutral expression each time.

There's his expression in clip A, and the following subject in clip B. The viewer's impression of his social calibration (his appropriateness) in A changes after they see B.

A is a neutral expression.

B is a somber event where restraint is required: A is appropriate.

B is a happy event or perhaps a close family member: A then B implies he's cold, underwhelmed or disapproving.

B is some random, inanimate object: B holds no new social meaning of A, unless B is symbolic or a plot Macguffin.

It's the same A, but it's the clip B following it that rewrites socioemotional history of the viewer.

At a higher level of abstraction, it and other socioemotional back-rationalizations imply most people allow the future to rewrite their impression of the past, making the past not entirely cast in stone. People can easily turn on each other and then forget about it simply because they choose to rewrite history in their minds, twice.

Like commercials, I don't think it works when you watch with suspicion. So you cannot watch this movie and draw conclusions from it because you're focussed on the context of the Kuleshov effect (which also makes it more difficult to replicate). Even movies are different when you watch them critically.

(FWIW, I have ASD as well, and for me the expressions on his face are meaningless.)

I don't have autism (or at least I'm not diagnosed) and none of the faces evoked any effect on me. But maybe it is because I'm fixated on the faces and not on the bigger picture.

A variant of this is used in an autism test:



Autism's partial face-blindness may include an inability to learn prejudices about the emotional content of faces.

It's difficult to say precisely. Someone with classic autism most likely wouldn't be able to interpret the implications of Hitchcock edit sequences because it would require Theory of Mind and social inference. Aspergers would likely have a better chance, but it might not be innately, immediately obvious to them.

In a neurotypical person the "GPU" of the brain is used for face and body language recognition. I like to think the "GPU" is used for other things when you fit the AS - it seems logical that when using different circuitry for the task you will hit different illusions (different biases in the algorithm).

I would like to see examples of this effect in advertising

The entirety of video advertising utilizes this effect. A shot of carpet cleaner is less effective than that same shot juxtaposed with a happy couple enjoying dinner in a clean home.

The naive advertising of Kermit the Frog (Ocean Breeze soap will get you clean!) Is rarely as effective as showing successfully happy people, even if they aren't using the product!

Really the Kuleshov effect is so pervasive in visual media that we don't think of it as an effect, just as the way things are. It would be like trying to imagine living without object permanance.

Which isn't to take away from Kuleshov at all, cinema was a very new medium back then and this effect wasn't immediately obvious. Furthermore we might expect that people who grew up with cinema and video everywhere might be sophisticated enough not to be subject to the effect, but the recent replications of the effect and it's continued efficacy in advertising show that we still are.

I wish I could take a class on early film history. It's fascinating to see how people figured out all these techniques, tricks, rules, and conventions in the first few decades of movie-making. It's simply incredible how quickly it developed as an art form so quickly.

This scene from Monty Python's Holy Grail came back to my mind: https://youtu.be/DPXG4pdPj4w?t=18

> [Monty Python scene of two guards who see a distant hazy image of a knight charging the castle, but do nothing because the image is so distant and hazy, but are surprised when the knight finally arrives and kills one of them]

I'm intrigued that you used that particular scene as an example.

I've watched a lot of Monty Python and I've seen this movie at least a couple times, but that scene makes no sense to me. I don't get how it's supposed to be funny and why it's even there. It is possible to explain it?

For me the humor lies in the buildup. The music gives you the feeling that a fight is about to develop as soon as he gets closer. Pretty much the only thing you wouldn't expect to happen is for them to be caught off guard.

It works like most humor works: it sets up an expectation and then defies it. The expectation is that they see him charging combatively from a mile away. They should be readied for an attack or at least an urgent situation. This is defied by him popping up almost immediately.

It's also defied in very "British humor" style, with the characters seriously under-reacting to the situation. Under-reacting to the approaching threat (which conveniently also serves to highlight the distance) and to the attack itself.

> I don't get how it's supposed to be funny and why it's even there. It is possible to explain it?

I think you just covered about 70% of monty python for me.

I think much of it falls under "if I have to explain to you, you won't get it".

FWIW, I get (and like) a lot of british humour, but really not much of MP.

I think the humor comes from the shock and incongruity of a "battle" where he's brutally murdering innocent civilians and clueless guards for no reason. He probably could have just sauntered past them all. It's called the WTFLOL Effect (no Wikipedia entry yet).

There probably is a similar effect when people look at their own photos versus other people looking at the same photos. Wonder if anyone experimentally verified that.

It's likely linked to the fact that phones mirror selfies because that matches oneself mental image better

It's a manifestation of back-rationalization whereby future experiences alter and redefine memories of the past. This is just another example of how people are infinitely manipulatable, unreliable and that their memories, and even their experiences, are entirely mutable.

I think that this is a big part of why tiktok works so well as an app. You can always re-phrase one video in the context of a new one to create a lot of creative mashups.

Steve Bannon is - inspired, I guess? by this method and he and others at Breitbart build on it to trick people into forming associations between things that aren't really there. "The opposition with Jordan Klepper" has an excellent bit on it, where one of the correspondents goes undercover at a "citizen journalism" workshop taught by one of the Breitbart editors. The relevant bit is here, on the second clip: The https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhniP-mAChI&t=1m20s

And here's the first clip, just for completeness.


What does Bannon have to do with the article or the effect?

It's a 100 year old discovery that's been used by everyone in the media for decades. It's why films have editors. It's why news companies edit their interviews. The article even has a hitchcock example.

"In the first version of the example, Hitchcock is squinting, and the audience sees footage of a woman with a baby. The screen then returns to Hitchcock's face, now smiling. In effect, he is a kind old man. In the second example, the woman and baby are replaced with a woman in a bikini, Hitchcock explains: "What is he now? He's a dirty old man.""

Bannon does it, but so does everyone in the media.

Can you substantiate your claim, for instance, when did NYTimes use this effect to create an association in support of false facts? It seems that Breitbart has a much higher rate of misleading or outright false information compared to WSJ, NYTimes, etc. and much more supportive of using various strategies to trick its readers into believing falsehoods.

NYTimes is print media. This effect is for film editing. Better question would be for Fox News, MSNBC, etc.

The article describes a psychological technique, and the comment describes how a person who is extremely relevant to modern politics uses that technique.

I feel the comment is exactly what comments are for, adding further context around an article with a different perspective. Can you explain why you think he shouldn't have made this comment, outside of "Bannon is not the only person who does this, you can't make this comment unless you mention every other form of media that does."

The Soviets invented it, the Chinese mastered it, and Brietbart has never been anything but completely transparent in articulating his strategy as taking Saul Alinky's tactics and applying them toward better ends.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact