The hypothesis that color is superior to black and white in eliciting an audience’s rated perception of reality in film scenes is not clearly supported by the evidence. A slight trend, on the contrary, is evinced favoring black and white. Results of the fourth item not only reversed the mild trend in favor of blackand-white, but also showed a significant drop in number of “real” responses, for both black and white and color, as compared with the three other items. The difference in favor of color in this case, as pointed out, was significant at the 5 percent level of confidence.
While it is difficult to establish the cause of the differing effects of this fourth scene, it is reasonable to conjecture that a theatrical quality in the behavior of the main actor in this scene may have contributed to the generally reduced credence placed in this scene when shown either as black-and-white or color. The superiority of the color version over the black-and-white suggests that this “theatrical” quality has differential effects in interaction with the color variable. The findings here are much too sketchy to justify any elaborate speculation, but there might possibly be here some mild support of VanderMeer’s contention that when color is used in film, audiences are less apt to take notice of, or be affected by other cues.
The fact of whether a scene is real or staged seems less influential to an audience’s perception of reality than other variables within the screen image itself, of which one is the color variable. Apart from the color variable, the ability of a film scene to give the illusion of having been shot from life seems to be very potent even when, in fact, the scene is staged.
There is some indication that variables important to an audience’s perception of reality in film scenes have differtial effects in interaction with color and black and white.