Vol.2, No.7, 804-810 (2010)
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
Effects of supervised movie appreciation on the
improvement of college students’ li fe meaning sense
Xinqiang Wang1,2, Dajun Zhang1,2*, Jinliang Wang1,2, Hui Xu1,2, Min Xiao1,2
1Center for Student’s Mental Health Education, Southwest University, Chongqing, China;
*Corresponding Aut hor: zhangdj@swu.edu.cn
2Research Institute of Educational Science; Southwest University, Chongqing, China
Received 27 December 2009; revised 20 March 2010; accepted 23 March 2010.
The purpose of this study was to explore the
effects of supervised movie appreciation on
improving the life meaning sense among col-
lege students. The intervention combined by
“pre-video, post counseling” was conducted on
the experimental group, while the control group
received no intervention. Results have shown
that the scores on the subscales of will to
meaning, life purpose, life control, suffer ac-
ceptance and on the total scale have improved
significantly. No gend er dif ference was found o n
the intervention effect, and participants receiv-
ing intervention maintained higher level on re-
lated subscales a week later, indicating that
supervised movie appreciation is an effective
way to improve the life meaning sense among
college students.
Keywords: College Students; Life Meaning Sense;
Supervised Movie Appreciation; Suicide Prevention;
Mental Health Education
The life meaning theory proposed by Frankl is of great
importance in the studies of life meaning. According to
Frankl’s proposal, many mental disorders among college
students, such as depression, emptiness, and loneliness
and suicide behavior are caused by a lack of life mean-
ing, namely, a negative mental state resulted from a mere
pursuit towards natural life itself while lacking goals of
life spiritual values [1]. Other studies also have shown
that the life meaning plays an important role in prevent-
ing mental illness, preventing suicide, achieving mental
health and improving the adaptability to the changing
living environment. It can con tinuously predict the men-
tal status and play a unique and irreplaceable role in case
of crisis and serious frustration [1-5]. Therefore, it may
effectively prevent college students’ mental illness and
suicide and maintain a mental healthy state, by imple-
menting active intervention for college students [6,7].
However, few empirical studies in the psychology arena
have been conducted to explore the effective ways to
achieve this goal.
Educators are, in recent years, increasingly focusing
on the integration of multiple approaches and modes to
improve teenager’s mental health [8] and strive to ex-
pand the intervention scope of mental health education
for students [9]. The present education arena is in urgent
need of mental health education approaches character-
ized by implicitness, protectiveness and permeation [10].
It is universally acknowledged that movie appreciation is
an intervention approach with aforesaid advantages. Su-
pervised movie appreciation is a psychological counsel-
ing approach by which the educators guide, on a cus-
tomized basis and for certain educational objective, the
participants to change the cogn itive or emotional factors,
including their opinions and attitudes towards them-
selves, the others or certain matter, develop individual’s
positive mental quality, relieve mental stress, prevent
mental illness and eliminate mental disorders through
movie appreciation and comprehension. Yuan [11] be-
lieved that individuals may gain, during the movie ap-
preciation, the internal drive that can influence human
being’s emotion, thought, habit and belief, driving indi-
viduals to seek a brighter and more profound life.
Meanwhile, individuals’ existed values and morality is
imperceptibly changed by the movie. Such influence will
never end but continue throughout the life after the
movie appreciation. However, the idea that movie ap-
preciation is helpful to facilitate mental health mainly
comes from theoretical explanation and empirical ob-
servation heretofore and there is few convincing empiri-
cal evidence [12-14]. Therefore, in the present study,
educational experiment was used to explore the effects
of supervised movie appreciation on improving students’
X. Q. Wang et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 804-810
Copyright © 2010 SciRes. Openly accessible at http://www.scirp.org/journal/HEALTH/
life meaning sense.
2.1. Participants
A class consisting of 56 students was selected at random,
at a class of their optional courses, from those in Grade 1
of a college in Chongqing, China; they had never watch-
ed the film named POSTMAN IN THE MOUNTAINS.
21 boys (37.5%) and 35 girls (62.5%) consisted of the
experimental group, with an average age of 19.67 years
old and a standard age deviation of 0.92 years. For the
control group, th ere wer e 46 fresh men includ ing 20 boys
(43.5%) and 26 girls (56.5%), who had not watched the
film either. The average age for the control group was
19.64 years old and the standard age deviation was 1.01
years. Such participants were coming from different de-
partments of the college and majoring in different sub-
2.2. Material
which lasted one hour and thirty minutes approximately,
was produced by Xiaoxiang Film Studio and Beijing
Film Studio in 1998. The movie was shown on a 120-inch
projector screen in the large multi-media classroom with
a capacity of 120 people.
2.3. Measures
We used, in the objective evaluation, the subscale “Me-
aning Searching and Assertion” in the total scale “the
Life Attitude Profile (LAP)”, a measurement developed
by Ho on the basis of the central concepts of Frankl’s
logotherapy [2]. This subscale consists of 4 dimensions
and 25 items, including will to meaning (9 items), life
purpose (4 items), life control (7 items) and suffer ac-
ceptance (5 items). Likert-style 5-point rating style was
adopted in the subscale, with higher score indicating
higher level on life meaning. Specifically, the dimension
of will to meaning is to investigate individual’s motiva-
tion to seek the significance an d purpos e of the existen ce
of self, the dimension of life purpose is to investigate
whether an individual has clear and meaningful purpose
of life and the individual’s satisfaction with the life pur-
pose, the dimension of life control is to investigate
whether an individual can make choice at his/her discre-
tion and how he/she will be responsible for the life, and
the dimension of suffer acceptance is to investigate wh-
ether an individual has understood what the suffering
means and to what degree he/she may accept the suffer-
ing. The total scale has been shown to have relatively
high internal consistency reliability, retest reliability,
content validity and construct validity as well as certain
predictive va lidity since the four subscales are all able to
predict the “positive mental health” in general [2]. The
Cronbach’s Alpha coefficient for internal consistency
reliability was 0.876 in the subscale selected in this
The subjective evaluation of participants` life meaning
sense was also provided, based on the interview on the
participants after watching the film, the feedback of 12
participants selected randomly by the experimenter from
the experimental gr oup, and the information reflected by
participants and recorded by the experimenter during the
2.4. Procedure and Intervention
The intervention model composed by “pre-video, post
counseling” [13] was conducted on the experimental
group by means of mental health education lessons for
college students, while the control group received no
2.4.1. Pre-Video Introduction
The slides on the projector screen demonstrated for the
experimental group the theme of this movie, “love, hope,
responsibility and meaning of life”, and briefly intro-
duced some important information, including the direc-
tor, actors, actresses, awards obtained in China or other
countries and the sensation caused abroad. However,
such introduction did not disclose any plot.
2.4.2. Pre-Test
The experimental group was asked, by the instruction
that “please write down your attitude towards the life
before appreciating the movie”, to fill in the “Meaning
Searching and Assertion” in the “the Life Attitude Pro-
file” before the movie was on. The subjects in the con-
trol group, who attended a class having no relation with
mental health education, also took part in the pre-test.
2.4.3. Watching the Movie
The experimental group was watching the movie POST-
2.4.4. Post Counseling
The experimenter first shared with the experimental
group the experiences in “beauty”, “love, persistence
and hope”, “belief”, “enrichment”, “beauty of simplicity
and meaning of life”, “responsibility and significance of
human beings” thereafter, and then asked the partici-
pants to tell their experiences in th eir life at their discre-
1The movie was entitled the Best Film, the Best Director and the Bes
Actor of the 19th Golden Rooster Awards, the People’s Choice Award
at the 32nd Montréal World Film Festival, the Silver Peacock Award, a
Special Jury Prize, at the 31st International Film Festival of India, the
Japanese Kinema Junpo Awards, the awards at the Mainichi Film Con-
cours and the Awards of the Japanese Academy.
X. Q. Wang et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 804-810
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tion. Eight participants did so. They spent 2 hours and 40
minutes in total on movie-watching and post counseling.
2.4.5. Post-Test
The post-test was conducted on the experimental group
immediately after the post counseling and on the control
group as soon as the mental health education lessons
ended. The post-test for the experimental group and the
control group were conducted at the same time.
2.5. Follow-Up Study
The same measuring was conducted on the experimental
group one w eek after the supervised movie appreciatio n.
2.6. Processing of Experimental Data
Classify and number the pre-test and post-test of each
participant’s scale according to the type of groups and
make statistics and analysis with SPSS13.0. Qualitative
analysis was used for subjective evaluation.
3.1. Scores of Experimental Group and
Control Group during Pre-Test and
Post-Test of Life Meaning
Independent-samples t test was used to compare the
sores between the experimental group and the control
group on the pre-test. In the post-test, independent-sam-
ples t test was also conducted to compare the difference
between control group and experimental group. Ta b le 1
shows, in respect of the subscales and the total scale of
life meaning: 1) the post-test score of the experimental
group is much higher than the pre-test score (p < 0.001),
and 2) the post-test score of the control group does not
change remarkably compared with its pre-test score (p >
0.05). During the pre-test, the experimental group and
the control group scored almost the same in respect of
the subscales and the total scale of the life meaning (p >
Table 1. Scores of experimen t al group and control group during pre-test and post-test of college students’ life meaning.
Pre-Test Post-Test
M ± SD M ± SD
Experimenta l G roup (n = 56) 37.34 ± 5.00 40.29 ± 3.81 –5.133﹡﹡﹡
Control Group (n = 46) 37.52 ± 4.67 37.72 ± 5.23 –0.551 Will to meaning
t –0.189
Experimenta l G roup (n = 56) 14.16 ± 2.76 16.07 ± 2.47 –7.076﹡﹡﹡
Control Group (n = 46) 14.35 ± 3.19 14.76 ± 3.27 –1.799
Life purpose
t –0.318
Experimenta l G roup (n = 56) 26.80 ± 3.22 28.48 ± 2.71 –3.854﹡﹡﹡
Control Group (n = 46) 26.30 ± 3.71 26.57 ± 3.56 –0.719
Life control
t 0.728
Experimenta l G roup (n = 56) 21.29 ± 3.25 22.55 ± 2.70 –4.139﹡﹡﹡
Control Group (n = 46) 20.91 ± 2.99 20.76 ± 2.85 0.531
suffer acceptance
t 0.598
Experimenta l G roup (n = 56) 99.59 ± 11.27 107.39 ± 8.30 –6.252﹡﹡﹡
Control Group (n = 46) 99.09 ± 11.42 99.80 ± 12.18 –1.107
Total Scale
t 0.223
Note: p < 0.05; p < 0.01; p < 0.001
X. Q. Wang et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 804-810
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0.05); during the post-test, the experimental group scored
much higher than th e con trol group in respect of th e sub-
scales and the total scale of the life meaning (p < 0.05).
3.2. Average Increase of Post-Test Scores
over Pre-Test Scores of Experimental
Group and Control Group
Such increase was obtained by post-test scores minus
pre-test scores of experimental group and control group.
The independent-samples t test was then used to verify
and compare the difference between the average in-
creases of the two groups. Results have shown that the
increase of the experimental group’s scores on all sub-
scales and the total scale of life meaning is much higher
than that of the control group (p > 0.05) (Table 2).
3.3. Analysis on Gender Effect during the
Supervised Movie Appreciation of
Experimental Group
We took all subscales and the total scale on college stu-
dents’ life meaning, including two dependent variable of
pre-test and post-test, as the within-subjects factors and
took the gender, including two value label of female and
male, as the between-subjects factors. We used the re-
peated measures ANOVA to examine whether there was
the main effect of gender during the supervised movie
appreciation experiment. Results have shown that the
main effects of gender were unremarkable for the four
subscales, including will to meaning, life purpose, life
control and suffer acceptance, and the total scale. They
were respectively F (1, 18.2 29) = 0.599, p = 0.442; F (1,
5.601) = 0.476, p = 0.493; F (1, 1.371) = 0.109, p =
0.743; F (1, 30.672) = 2.055, p = 0.158; F (1, 121.072) =
0.792, p = 0.377. The r esults showed that gender ha d no
significant effects on the scores.
3.4. Comparison between the Post-Test
Score of the Experimen t al Group fo r the
First Time and the Post-Test Score One
Week Later
We conducted the post-test again one week following the
experiment to find out whether the effect of this inter-
vention experiment was sustainable (1 participant is ab-
sent) and compared the results with the repeatedly
measured paired-samples t test used for the post-test for
the first time. Then we found that there was no signifi-
cant difference between the scores of the two post-tests
(p > 0.05). This demonstrates that the intervention still
have effect on students’ life meaning sense one week
later (Table 3).
3.5. Subjective Evaluation
The participants were all conscientiously watching the
movie when it was on, and some participants even took
the lead to applaud as the movie was over. The experi-
menter observed that the participants were all moved by
Table 2. Average increase of post-test scores over pre-test scores of experimental group and control group.
Will to Meaning Life Purpose Life Control Suffer acceptance Total Scale
Average Increase of Experimental
Group (n = 56) 2.95 ± 4.30 1.91 ± 2.02 1.68 ± 3.26 1.27 ± 2.29 7.80 ± 9.34
Average Increase of Control Group
(n = 46) 0.20 ± 2.41 0.41 ± 1.56 0.26 ± 2.46 –0.15 ± 1.94 0.72 ± 4.40
t 3.870﹡﹡﹡ 4.120﹡﹡﹡ 2.434 3.331﹡﹡ 4.730﹡﹡﹡
Note: p < 0.05; ﹡﹡p < 0.01; ﹡﹡﹡p < 0.001
Table 3. Comparison between the post-test score of the experimental group for the first time and the post-test score one week later (n
= 55).
Post-Test (1st Time) Post-Test (1 Week Later) t
Will to Meaning 40.29 ± 3.81 39.84 ± 3.96 1.173
Life Purpose 16.07 ± 2.47 16.04 ± 2.52 0.142
Life Control 28.48 ± 2.71 27.88 ± 2.95 1.542
Suffer acceptan c e 22.55 ± 2.70 22.11 ± 2.66 1.761
Total Scale 107.39 ± 8.30 105.86 ± 9.29 1.750
X. Q. Wang et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 804-810
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the movie and have ever shed tears because their canthi
were wet. Most participants indicated, during the post
counseling and in their feedback, that the experimenter ’s
pre-video introduction played an important role in
stimulating their interest. For example, a student sur-
named Hu wrote down that “It is said that this movie can
‘make all men shed tears’, and this makes me interested
in it. I wonder what can bring so many awards for this
movie and make it so attractive?” Meanwhile, the envi-
ronment of the rural areas, where the story took place,
was similar to some extent to the participant’s living
environment. For example, a participant surnamed Wen
wrote down that “It seems that the story took place in
my hometown”. In addition, the movie is close to our
life and this is also important for the movie to receive
wide identification . For example, a participant surnamed
Zhang wrote down that “It is so close to my life that I
feel it should be a true event instead of just a story”.
From the perspective of father-son relationship which
has strong emotional shock, the story demonstrated
many issues on life meaning, including career, love,
family and responsibility. All of those also co n cern ed the
college students and may better penetrate and enlighten
the participants. For example, a participant surnamed
Huang and another surnamed Sheng respectively wrote
down th at “This is th e first time that I watch a movie so
conscientiously that I never miss any scene. It shocked
me so much that I have received a spiritual baptism” and
that “The emotion revealed is moving although the plot
is plain”. The experimenter guided, during the post
counseling, the participan ts to exchang e their feelings on
the movie based on their experiences in the past life.
Other participants applauded to reinforce the effect and
emotional resonance was thus caused, which deepened
the participants’ comprehension on the movie and con-
solidated the intervention effect. To sum up, the most
common words repeated by the participants were “re-
sponsibility, mission, belief, hope, expectation, and
value and meaning of life”, no matter whether during an
immediate exchange of feelings or an after-class discus-
sion. In addition, so me participan ts pondered an d made a
further process on the movie following the experiment.
For example, a participant surnamed Li wrote down that
“I even pondered the movie for an extremely long time”
The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of
supervised movie appreciation on improving college
students’ life meaning sense. The results have shown that
the supervised movie appreciation may remarkably im-
prove college students’ life meaning sense. This is iden-
tical to the idea that “movie appreciation is helpful to
achieve mental health” [12-14] and preliminarily proves
the idea by empirical evidence. In addition, we also
found in this study that the gender did not cause signifi-
cant impact on the experimental results and that there
was no significant difference between the scores for the
post-test one week after the experiment and the post-test
for the first time. This indicates that the effect of this
experiment is sustainable and further proves that super-
vised movie appreciation is an effective mean to im-
prove the life m eani ng sense among college students.
Why the supervised movie appreciation may improve
the life meaning sense among college students? The
reasons are: 1) it is the precondition to control and re-
move irrelevant variables. For example, we selected the
freshmen that have not watched the movie as the par-
ticipants for the experimental group and the control
group and effectively controlled the variables of such
participants, includ ing the gender, the grade and the age.
2) It assures successful intervention to make an inte-
grated and feasib le counselin g proposal. Th is exp eriment
was conducted in accordance with BU Hong’s interven-
tion model combined by “pre-video, post counseling”
[13] and the results proved that the model was feasible
and played an important role in counseling. It was help-
ful for the experimenter to set the intervention direction
for participants to demonstrate the key words during
pre-video introduction and make the participants under-
stand their life meaning before the movie began; the
participant would connect the plot with the intervention
theme consciously or unconsciously when they were
watching the movie. Meanwhile, the introduction of some
basic information on the movie was helpful to stimulate
the participant’s interest as said by the participant sur-
named Hu during the subjective evaluation. In addition,
it was also helpful to consolidate the effect when indi-
viduals’ attitudes formed during the intervention can be
transferred to reality situations [15]. The experimenter
directed the participants during the post-counseling to
talk about their feelings based on their experiences and
this was helpful for the participants to further compre-
hend, transfer and consolidate the theme of the interven-
tion. 3) It is crucial for successful intervention to select
appropriate movie. Supervised movie appreciation is
helpful to achieve students’ mental health, but it doesn’t
mean that this objective can be realized by selecting a
movie at random. The key is to find an appropriate
movie that can cause strong resonance [14]. Therefore,
the selection of movie is extremely important and it
should follow certain principle [12]. In this study we
searched a movie with a theme close to the life meaning
from the Internet and from various other channels before
the intervention, analyzed the basic information, intro-
X. Q. Wang et al. / HEALTH 2 (2010) 804-810
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duction and review of the related movies and watched
and discussed the movie before making determination.
Finally, we selected POSTMAN IN THE MOUNTAINS
as the intervention material to improve the life meaning
sense. The cultural settin gs of this movie is si milar to the
participants’ living environment to some extent, the plot
seems like a true story, the picture is beautiful and the
music is pleasant, so it was highly accepted. The movie
stimulated much of the participants’ emotion and caused
great shock to them via the father-son relationship. The
father and the son in the movie were faced with many
issues in respect of life meaning, including career, love,
family and responsibility, and such issu es were just those
concerning most college students and frequently dis-
cussed by them. It was not only consistent with the col-
lege students’ psychological characteristics, but also
close to the theme of the intervention; it may better per-
meate the intervention and enlighten the participants. 4)
It is of significant importance whether the participant
identified, catharsised and insighted the theme of the
intervention during the supervised movie appreciation.
How can the supervised movie appreciation improve the
participant’s mental quality? We believe that the func-
tions of supervised movie appreciation may be explained
from psychological “identification, catharsis and insight”
[10,16]: the participants consciously or unconsciously,
when wa tching th e mov ie, regard ed the ch ar acter istic s of
the protagonist as their own characteristics and deemed
the roles in the movie as themselves to achieve identifi-
cation; then they further experienced the emotional con-
flict and strain in the circumstances in the movie after
they entered into the spirit of the character so that the
self suppressed at ordinary times and their overload in-
hibition can be released and the emotion can be cathar-
sised; finally, they gradually sublimated, insighted and
internalized the theme of the intervention at the time of
identification and catharsis under the direction of the
movie, and the post-counseling and their preparation of
feedback may further help them comprehend, internalize,
transfer and consolidate the experimental effect.
There are still limitations in this study although it has
been proved that supervised movie appreciation may
effectively improve the life meaning sense among col-
lege students in the experimental group. 1) The scope for
selecting participants is limited. Only a small number of
freshmen were appropriate to this study. It has been
proved via certain study [17] that the freshman’s mental
quality level is quite different from that of the college
students in higher grade; therefore it needs further re-
search and verification whether this experiment is effec-
tive to all college students. In addition , most participants
receiving the intervention in this study were from rural
areas and their living environment was quite similar to
that in the movie, which may help such participants
identify the movie and enhance the intervention effect.
Therefore, it also needs further research whether this
experiment is effective to the college students from ur-
ban areas. 2) Other subjective items, which were not
related to the life meaning sense, should be designed as a
control variable and included in the further research to
make the result more reliable. 3) It also needs further
research and investigation whether this experiment is
effective no matter whether there is direction or not dur-
ing the movie appreciation and whether such effects are
the same or different.
The scores on the subscales of will to meaning, life pur-
pose, life control, suffer acceptance and on the total scale
have improved significantly and such improvement is
sustainable to some extent. No gender difference was
found on the experimental effect. Results have shown
that supervised movie appreciation is an effective mean
to improve the life meaning sense among college stu-
This study was supported by the fund of School Social Work Safeguard
System for College and Middle School Student’s Mental Health
(06XSH012), and supported by Key Project “Strategies on Cultivating
College and Middle School Students’ Personality Traits” at Key Hu-
manity Social Science Research Institute in Chongqing.
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