In two experiments subjects viewed versions of Heider & Simmel's (1944) cartoon film in which two triangles and a circle move in and round a diagram of a house. The film was shown in stages. After each stage subjects wrote accounts of what had happened and what they thought might happen next. Accounts were analysed by assigning each verb phrase to one of four categories ranging from impersonal description of movement, to personal description of human emotion and dramatic interaction. Subjects used progressively more personal descriptions as the film proceeded, implying assimilation of events of the film by social schemata. In a second experiment, giving the film the title of ‘The jealous lover’ encouraged earlier use of verbs in the more personal categories. Summaries written after the stage-by-stage accounts showed elaboration on the original perceptions.