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Emotion inferences and text comprehension: Narrative characteristics and their influence on emotion inferences elaboration

English title Emotion inferences and text comprehension: Narrative characteristics and their influence on emotion inferences elaboration
Applicant Gygax Pascal
Number 130101
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Psychologie Université de Fribourg
Institution of higher education University of Fribourg - FR
Main discipline Psychology
Start/End 01.04.2010 - 31.07.2013
Approved amount 81'648.00
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Keywords (4)

reading; inference; psycholinguistics; emotion

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Earlier work by Gygax and colleagues (2003, 2004) questioned the tacit assumption found in different studies that readers infer the main protagonist's emotional state specifically (e.g., Gernsbacher, Goldsmith & Robertson, 1992). They argued that there was no need for the readers to activate complex background information and incorporate specific emotions in their mental representations, and that a rather superficial representation of emotion would suffice to guide the reading process. Gygax, Tapiero & Carruzzo (2007) further showed that under normal reading circumstances, readers include behavioural elements, maybe more simple to retrieve from background knowledge, in their mental model of the situation (e.g., cry, clench your fist). They argued that readers may well form a representation foundation composed of easily retrievable behavioural elements (e.g. cry, clench your fist), on which more complex elements, such as emotion terms, can be mapped further along the reading process under particular circumstances. In the primary project, we found that the variables under investigation had only slight influence on the elaboration of a complex emotional representation. Readers still seemed to be attached to a more behavioural representation of emotion. Although it is tempting to say that readers may well never automatically build a complex and elaborate representation of emotion, one main issue, often very lightly attended in previous research, needs to be addressed before reaching such a conclusion. In the present project, through three experiments, we would like to argue that previous research, including ours, often focused on psycholinguistic concepts and somehow neglected concepts associated to the very construct of emotions. In this project, we explicitly question the content of the narratives under investigation in previous research and hypothesise that the lack of specificity (e.g., Gygax et al., 2003), as well as the lack of complexity (Gygax et al., 2007) found previously were due to the fact that the narratives under investigation did not contain the adequate information that may lead to such a complexity. To sum up, this project attempts to further shed light into the representation of emotion while reading and at the same time better control certain issues that may have been overlooked in previous research.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Individual differences and emotional inferences during reading comprehension
Gillioz C, Gygax P, Tapiero I (2012), Individual differences and emotional inferences during reading comprehension, in Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 66(4), 239-250.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Laboratoire d'Etude des Mécanismes Cognitifs Université Lumière Lyon 2 France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Swiss Center for Affective Sciences Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences 01.11.2012 Geneva, Switzerland
Lunchtime Seminar of the Department of Psychology 01.10.2012 University of Fribourg, Switzerland
22nd Meeting of the Society for Text and Discourse 01.09.2012 Montreal, Canada
17th Meeting of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology 01.10.2011 San Sebastian, Spain
12th Congress of the Swiss Psychological Society 01.09.2011 Fribourg, Switzerland
the 21st Meeting of the Society for Text and Discourse 01.09.2011 Poitiers, France
20th Meeting of the Society for Text and Discourse 01.08.2010 Chicago, United States
11th Congress of the Swiss Psychological Society 01.08.2009 Neuchâtel, Switzerland


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
120634 Emotion Inferences and Text Comprehension: A project on the complexity of emotion inferences made during reading 01.09.2008 Project funding (Div. I-III)

Abstract

In project no 100014-120634, we investigated reader’s automatic construction of the representation of the main protagonist’s emotional status in short narratives and the variables that modulate such a representation. In this primary project, we focused on variables that were mostly associated to the readers, such as working memory, empathy, time to elaborate and simulation strategy. If those variables did show some interesting specific modulating influence, the results were not as conclusive as expected. Earlier work by Gygax and colleagues (2003, 2004) questioned the tacit assumption found in different studies that readers infer the main protagonist’s emotional state specifically (e.g., Gernsbacher, Goldsmith & Robertson, 1992). They argued that there was no need for the readers to activate complex background information and incorporate specific emotions in their mental representations, and that a rather superficial representation of emotion would suffice to guide the reading process. Gygax, Tapiero & Carruzzo (2007) further showed that under normal reading circumstances, readers include behavioural elements, maybe more simple to retrieve from background knowledge, in their mental model of the situation (e.g., cry, clench your fist). They argued that readers may well form a representation foundation composed of easily retrievable behavioural elements (e.g. cry, clench your fist), on which more complex elements, such as emotion terms, can be mapped further along the reading process under particular circumstances. In the primary project, we found that the variables under investigation had only slight influence on the elaboration of a complex emotional representation. Readers still seemed to be attached to a more behavioural representation of emotion. Although it is tempting to say that readers may well never automatically build a complex and elaborate representation of emotion, one main issue, often very lightly attended in previous research, needs to be addressed before reaching such a conclusion. In the present project, we would like to argue that previous research, including ours, often focused on psycholinguistic concepts and somehow neglected concepts associated to the very construct of emotions. In this project, we explicitly question the content of the narratives under investigation in previous research and hypothesise that the lack of specificity (e.g., Gygax et al., 2003), as well as the lack of complexity (Gygax et al., 2007) found previously were due to the fact that the narratives under investigation did not contain the adequate information that may lead to such a complexity. This present project is composed of three experiments (and a Pilot study) investigating the idea that an emotion is composed of different subcomponents (e.g. Davidson, 2003; Ortony, Clore & Collins, 1988; Scherer, 1984, 2005), and that in order to generate an elaborate representation of an emotion, the appropriate components need (1) to be explicitly mentioned in the text or implicitly inferred from the text (Experiment 1a and 1b) or (2) to be activated from a previous reading cycle (Experiment 2). To sum up, this project attempts to further shed light into the representation of emotion while reading and at the same time better control certain issues that may have been overlooked in previous research.
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