A graph-learning approach for detecting moral conflict in movie scripts

Frederic René Hopp, Jacob Taylor Fisher, René Weber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Moral conflict is central to appealing narratives, but no methodology exists for computationally extracting moral conflict from narratives at scale. In this article, we present an approach combining tools from social network analysis and natural language processing with recent theoretical advancements in the Model of Intuitive Morality and Exemplars. This approach considers narratives in terms of a network of dynamically evolving relationships between characters. We apply this method in order to analyze 894 movie scripts encompassing 82,195 scenes, showing that scenes containing moral conflict between central characters can be identified using changes in connectivity patterns between network modules. Furthermore, we derive computational models for standardizing moral conflict measurements. Our results suggest that this method can accurately extract moral conflict from a diverse collection of movie scripts. We provide a theoretical integration of our method into the larger milieu of storytelling and entertainment research, illuminating future research trajectories at the intersection of computational communication research and media psychology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)164-179
Number of pages16
JournalMedia and Communication
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors; licensee Cogitatio (Lisbon, Portugal).


  • Computational narratology
  • Emfd
  • Entertainment
  • Graph learning
  • Mime
  • Moral conflict
  • Movie scripts
  • Network science


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