Following the viewers: Investigating television drama engagement through skin conductance measurements

Andreas Gregersen*, Birger Langkjær, Lene Heiselberg, Jacob Lyng Wieland

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


This article describes an empirical study of viewer emotional engagement with the first episode of the television fiction series Follow the Money (DR, 2015), a crime melodrama. The study combines applied and academic audience research and investigates real-time viewer responses by measuring and analysing skin conductance (SC) responses as an indicator of emotional arousal. The article outlines a framework for analysing emotion and arousal in television viewer engagement. It then describes SC measurements and the difference between tonic and phasic measurements. Two primary SC measures that indicate emotional engagement are derived, i.e. average phasic skin conductance response and the average number of emotionally arousing events pr. second. In our findings, both of these measures indicate a slight linear upwards trend and qualitative data is brought in to contextualize the quantitative findings. The study demonstrates how SC measures, formal analysis, and qualitative methods can be combined and the article ends with an outline of how future studies might adopt parts of the research design to further integrate applied audience research, audience research in media psychology, and cognitive film theory.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Arousal
  • Audience research
  • Cognitive film theory
  • Emotions
  • Skin conductance measurements
  • Television fiction

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