Nowadays films occupy a significant portion of the media products consumed by people. In Russia, cinema is being considered as a means of individual and social transformation, which makes a contribution to the formation of the Russian audience’s outlook, including their attitudes towards topical social issues. At the same time, the question of the effectiveness of films’ impact remains an open question in psychological science. According to the empirical orientation of our approach to the study of mass media influence, our goal was to obtain new data on the positive impact of films based on specific experimental research. The task was to identify changes in the attitudes of young people, as the most active viewers, towards topical social issues after watching a specifically selected film. Using a psychosemantic technique that included 25 scales designed to identify attitudes towards elderly people, respondents evaluated their various characteristics before and after watching the film. Using a number of characteristics related to the motivational, emotional and cognitive spheres, significant changes were revealed. At the same time, significant differences were found in assessments of the elderly between undergraduate students and postgraduate students. After watching the film, postgraduate students’ attitudes towards elderly people changed in a positive way, while undergraduate students’ negative assessments only worsened. The revealed opposite trends can be explained by individual differences of respondents, which include age, educational status as an indicator of individual psychological characteristics, the experience of interaction with elderly people and, as a result, attitudes towards elderly people at the time before watching the movie. The finding that previous attitudes mediate the impact of the film complements the ideas of the contribution of individual differences to media effects. Most of the changes detected immediately after watching the movie did not remain over time. A single movie viewing did not have a lasting effect on viewers’ attitudes, and it suggests the further task of identifying mechanisms of the sustainability of changes.
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