ArticleLiterature Review

Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds

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Abstract

Fiction is the simulation of selves in interaction. People who read it improve their understanding of others. This effect is especially marked with literary fiction, which also enables people to change themselves. These effects are due partly to the process of engagement in stories, which includes making inferences and becoming emotionally involved, and partly to the contents of fiction, which include complex characters and circumstances that we might not encounter in daily life. Fiction can be thought of as a form of consciousness of selves and others that can be passed from an author to a reader or spectator, and can be internalized to augment everyday cognition. In long-term associations and shorter-term experiments, engagement in fiction, especially literary fiction, has been found to prompt improvements in empathy and theory-of-mind.Improvements of empathy and theory-of-mind derive both from practice in processes such as inference and transportation that occur during literary reading, and from the content of fiction, which typically is about human characters and their interactions in the social world.Comprehension of stories shares areas of brain activation with the processing of understandings of other people.Both fiction and everyday consciousness are based on simulations of the social world; thus, reading a work of fiction can be thought of as taking in a piece of consciousness.The study of fiction helps us understand how imagination works to create possible worlds, and how mental models are formed of others and ourselves.

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... Theory of Mind, the recognition of and ability to interpret the mental processes of others, including emotions and intentions, is considered a milestone in childhood development and necessary for navigating social interactions (Black and Barnes, 2015a;Kidd and Castano, 2013;Mar, 2011;Nikolajeva, 2014;Zunshine, 2006). Several studies have linked ToM to creating and increasing empathy (Kidd and Castano, 2013;Mar et al., 2009;Oatley, 2016). As a requirement for and proxy measure of empathy, ToM can improve during the reading process as readers learn to understand and interpret the mental processes of fictional characters (Black and Barnes, 2015a;Kidd and Castano, 2013;Oatley, 2016). ...
... Several studies have linked ToM to creating and increasing empathy (Kidd and Castano, 2013;Mar et al., 2009;Oatley, 2016). As a requirement for and proxy measure of empathy, ToM can improve during the reading process as readers learn to understand and interpret the mental processes of fictional characters (Black and Barnes, 2015a;Kidd and Castano, 2013;Oatley, 2016). Exactly how ToM improves with exposure to narratives remains uncertain, but scholars suggest that readers practice learning about peoples' minds and social interactions using narratives as the exemplar (Dodell-Feder and Tamir, 2018;Kidd and Castano, 2013;Oatley, 2016). ...
... As a requirement for and proxy measure of empathy, ToM can improve during the reading process as readers learn to understand and interpret the mental processes of fictional characters (Black and Barnes, 2015a;Kidd and Castano, 2013;Oatley, 2016). Exactly how ToM improves with exposure to narratives remains uncertain, but scholars suggest that readers practice learning about peoples' minds and social interactions using narratives as the exemplar (Dodell-Feder and Tamir, 2018;Kidd and Castano, 2013;Oatley, 2016). Nikolajeva notes "reading fiction makes the brain simulate cognitive and affective responses to the actual world, and therefore, … can improve our understanding of the actual world" (p. ...
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Drawing on cognitive criticism, and using Theory of Mind, transportation, and imaginative resistance as a framework, this essay analyzes the ways in which Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows Duology, can build understanding of and empathy for people with living with mental illnesses. Maria Nikolajeva’s germinal work on cognitive approaches to literature for young people is foundational to this analysis, as are psychiatric and psychological studies. We trace the ways in which these novels encourage young readers’ cognitive development, particularly how they enable the ability to interpret the actions of people coping with PTSD and encourage engagement with characters’ thoughts, emotions, and goals. Our analysis focuses on Bardugo’s accurate portrayals of PTSD, and the potential for increased Theory of Mind and transportation through well-developed characters, vivid imagery, and engaging plotlines. We also explore how Bardugo circumvents imaginative resistance to these narratives which can prevent the development of empathy and further stigmatize those living with a mental illness.
... Fiction texts are those that tell a story, stimulating the readers' imagination (Oatley, 2016). The term fiction is generally used to distinguish imaginary events from the real world. ...
... Hence, literary fiction belongs more to the realm of possibilities than to real life (Mak & Fancourt, 2020). From this perceptive, works of fiction are not intended to provide information or detailed knowledge of the world; instead, fiction stimulates the readers' imagination of different times, places, and even cultures (Oatley, 2016). Therefore, fiction readers might understand others better partially because they engage in these stories by making emotional inferences about characters and complex circumstances, which is possibly not easily found in their daily lives (Oatley, 2016). ...
... From this perceptive, works of fiction are not intended to provide information or detailed knowledge of the world; instead, fiction stimulates the readers' imagination of different times, places, and even cultures (Oatley, 2016). Therefore, fiction readers might understand others better partially because they engage in these stories by making emotional inferences about characters and complex circumstances, which is possibly not easily found in their daily lives (Oatley, 2016). ...
Article
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This study seeks to know the main investigations on the relationship between reading fiction texts and empathy in children and adolescents. Through an integrative review of the scientific literature from the Scientific Electronic Library Online (Scielo), Education Resources Information Center (Eric), and PsycInfo databases between 2009 and 2020, 21 articles were analyzed in detail, showing a predominance of intervention studies, followed by case and correlational studies. The research samples are predominantly made up of students, although some also include the perception of teachers, parents, and guardians. Different aspects of the relationship between reading and empathy were identified, both studies that emphasize the contribution of reading to the development of empathy and studies that show the contribution of empathy to initial learning and the development of reading comprehension were observed. Most of the research was conducted in the North American context, pointing out a gap in the Brazilian scenario.
... Empirical research has shown that fiction is processed differently from non-fiction (Bal & Veltkamp, 2013), with a respective difference in brain activation (Hsu et al., 2015). In a review of the literature, Oatley (2016) postulated that fiction is a vehicle through which people can improve their understanding of others and themselves, and that this stimulates change and growth. We are immersed in stories from birth, and narratives are far more than mere entertainment; they contain real social-cognitive heuristic value (Krueger, 2013). ...
... Connectedness with others can take many different forms. Participants reported important connections with other Harry Potter fans and feeling connected with a wider community, as well as parasocial connections with the characters themselves and how these met their real life social needs, as is consistent with research on story comprehension (Mar, 2011;Oatley, 2016). This connection appeared to be bolstered by the immersive opportunities available for this series, such as merchandise, quidditch tournaments and Wizarding Worlds, with participants emphasising the range of ways that they are able to enter this world. ...
... Identification was also a central part of the psychodynamic model of the therapeutic use of stories, where this process permitted a release of emotional tension as the character the reader has connected with works through familiar challenges, reducing feelings of isolation (Morawski, 1997). When the unique neurological processes involved in ToM and affective empathy are activated through reading fiction, we are able to be emotionally transported by stories and empathetic responses and relational inferences are prompted, so that we can connect deeply with characters (Bal & Veltkamp, 2013;Hsu et al., 2015;Oatley, 2016;Zunshine, 2006). These intertwined processes have likely bolstered this process of identification, as well as connection, with the characters in the Harry Potter series. ...
Article
The Harry Potter universe is both widely accessible and incredibly popular, and this feature combined with its depth of narrative and genre may make it uniquely suitable to supporting mental health recovery. The current study aims to address a gap in the literature around how engagement with the Harry Potter universe, in the tradition of unguided creative bibliotherapy, may allow people to derive psychologically-relevant meanings from these narratives as part of their mental health recovery journey. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six individuals who identified as Harry Potter fans, had experienced mental health challenges, and were in recovery. Interviews were transcribed and analysed inductively to identify themes. Three superordinate themes were established that captured participants’ experiences of using Harry Potter along their mental health recovery journey: Early Engagement, Immersive World, and Connection. Although participants employed Harry Potter in creative and individual ways, best suited to their lived experience of mental health recovery, the superordinate themes pointed to several commonalities in how these fans used the series, and these reflected contemporary models of mental health recovery.
... Previous literature reviews either systematized the psychological literature (Mar, 2018b;Oatley, 2016) or the educational literature (Schrijvers et al., 2019b) and mostly reviewed the literature from within a specific "community of practice." By integrating the psychological and educational literature within each of the three stances, we clarify the implicit psychological assumptions underlying specific educational approaches. ...
... Cognitive psychologists explain sociomoral learning through narrative fiction by a deeply embodied mental simulation of social worlds (Mar, 2018b;Oatley, 2016). Even preschoolers spontaneously imagine the mental states of fictional characters by taking their visual, spatial-temporal, and psychological perspectives and thereby experience it as if they were perceiving the situations directly (Fecica & O'Neill, 2010;Ronfard & Harris, 2014). ...
... In expressive reading, the reader's attention is focused on his or her direct experiences in transacting with a particular text (Rosenblatt, 1978). Cognitive psychologists conceptualize these experiences as a simulation of fictional social worlds (Mar, 2018b;Oatley, 2016). Unlike efferent reading, expressive reading does not focus on social learning by acquiring content, but by training social-cognitive processes. ...
Article
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Educators read narrative fiction with children not only to promote their literacy skills, but also to support their sociomoral development. However, different approaches strongly diverge in their explanations and recommended instructional activities. Informed by theoretical understandings of reader-text transactions, this integrative review presents three different conceptions about how children learn socially from narrative fiction. The first approach explains sociomoral learning through narrative fiction by children’s extraction and internalization of the text’s moral message. The second approach refers to children’s training of mindreading and empathy as they become immersed in a fictional social world and imaginatively engage with the fictional characters’ perspectives. The third approach focuses on children’s social reasoning development through engagement in argumentative dialogues with peers about the complex sociomoral issues raised in narrative fiction. The article aims to theoretically position a wide range of literary programs to clarify their psychological foundations as well as critically discuss their strengths and limitations.
... While these open and complex empathic understandings are difficult to research with standardised experimental tests (Fletcher-Watson and Bird, 2020), the exploration of reflection in response to fictional texts offers a unique way to explore empathic understandings within an ecologically valid context (Chapple et al., 2021b). Specifically, fiction is argued to simulate the real social world (Mar and Oatley, 2008;Waytz et al., 2015;Oatley, 2016), where readers can embody character perspectives and feelings to achieve felt empathy (Mumper and Gerrig, 2019). While the use of personal thought and feeling to understand, appreciate and experience a text could be criticised as egocentric (Lombardo and Baron-Cohen, 2011), fiction encourages an overcoming of social pressures and conformity in a way that moves readers away from default or rigid ways of thinking (O'Sullivan et al., 2015;Davis, 2020;Davis and Magee, 2020). ...
... Additionally, empathic feeling can be enhanced while reading, due to the ability to feel with different Others without negative social or personal consequence (Koopman and Hakemulder, 2015;Koopman, 2016). Therefore, fiction is thought to be of social benefit to its readers, enhancing a reader's empathic capacity for different Others by providing opportunities for embodied reflection through a pluralism of simulated social experience (Oatley, 2002(Oatley, , 2016Bal and Veltkamp, 2013). ...
... Findings from the current study demonstrated the previously documented ability of serious literature to mirror the real social world (Mar and Oatley, 2008;Waytz et al., 2015;Oatley, 2016). While everyday socio-emotional encounters often require fastpaced assertions to achieve empathy, findings of improved empathic capacity after reading fiction (Mar et al., 2009;Bal and Veltkamp, 2013;Kidd and Castano, 2013) highlight the ability of literature to simulate everyday social cognition. ...
Article
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Dominant theoretical models of autism and resultant research enquiries have long centered upon an assumed autism-specific empathy deficit. Associated empirical research has largely relied upon cognitive tests that lack ecological validity and associate empathic skill with heuristic-based judgments from limited snapshots of social information. This artificial separation of thought and feeling fails to replicate the complexity of real-world empathy, and places socially tentative individuals at a relative disadvantage. The present study aimed to qualitatively explore how serious literary fiction, through its ability to simulate real-world empathic response, could therefore enable more ecologically valid insights into the comparative empathic experiences of autistic and non-autistic individuals. Eight autistic and seven non-autistic participants read Of Mice and Men for six days while completing a semi-structured reflective diary. On finishing the book, participants were asked to engage in three creative writing tasks that encouraged reflective thinking across the novel. Thematic and literary analysis of the diary reflections and writing tasks revealed three main themes (1) Distance from the Novel; (2) Mobility of Response; (3) Re-Creating Literature. Findings demonstrated the usefulness of serious literature as a research tool for comparing the empathic experiences of autistic and non-autistic individuals. Specifically, autistic individuals often showed enhanced socio-empathic understandings of the literature with no empathy deficits when compared to non-autistic participants.
... As an assertion common to the benefits of reading, fiction might be described as a route to or form of simulation that runs on minds and enables complex interactions in the social world. The theory for the simulation of social worlds has been carefully proposed and could form a basis for effects between improved EA and active engagement with fiction (Mar, Djikic, & Oatley, 2008;Oatley, 2016). Neuroanatomical evidence also supports the notion that fictional arcs induce a proxy simulation of events in the story world that concurrently represent, relate, or accord to the activities of the character(s) in question. ...
... This study investigated EA with two types of targets and accounted for the alignment of traits of empathy as a way to match behavioral indicators of interest to practitioners. Consistent with the simulation of social worlds that is posited to occur when reading fictional narratives (Oatley, 2016), Fantasy predicted EA performance but other trait empathy factors such as Perspective Taking or Empathic Concern did not. The two experiments showed that EA was related to Fantasy over other selfreported traits of cognitive empathy and affective empathy as predicted via synthesis with prior studies (Mar et al., 2006;Kidd & Castano, 2013;Hollan, 2012;Djikic, Oatley, & Moldoveanu, 2013). ...
Article
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Reading literature contributes to the development of language skills and socioemotional competencies related to empathic responding. Despite implications for improving measures of empathy used by practitioners interested in reading behavior and their applications to teaching empathic skills through literature, extensions to the ability to express empathic inference of interpersonal encounters, or empathic accuracy, remains an understudied area. Comparing which traits are associated with performance on tasks that require empathic accuracy could reveal more about underlying empathic processes and their characteristics for the benefit of practitioner tools and pedagogical choices for reading. Two studies were conducted to investigate possible relationships between self-reported constructs of interpersonal reactivity and an experimental paradigm that measures empathic accuracy. Experiment 1 investigated these relationships among participants having everyday conversations, and Experiment 2 examined the same variables in a context designed to emulate a counseling setting. In both cases, scores on the Fantasy self-report scale correlated with empathic accuracy scores. The results indicate that a tendency to consume fiction and engage in narrative transportation might play a role in the ability to accurately infer the internal state of others. Implications for reader involvement as learner engagement and consequential validity for instructional scaffolds are discussed.
... As individuals read, they construct simulated worlds and these simulations involve imagining the feelings of those in the text. Reading, then, is capable of building empathy for a larger range of characters and identities than readers normally interact with in life (Oatley, 2016), and this has the potential to to reduce bias against those with whom we do not share characteristics (Oatley, 2016). Critical reading prompts individuals to consider alternative perspectives and to engage in perspectivetaking, both of which are effective strategies that have been found to reduce bias (Blair et al., 2001;Lilienfeld et al., 2009). ...
... As individuals read, they construct simulated worlds and these simulations involve imagining the feelings of those in the text. Reading, then, is capable of building empathy for a larger range of characters and identities than readers normally interact with in life (Oatley, 2016), and this has the potential to to reduce bias against those with whom we do not share characteristics (Oatley, 2016). Critical reading prompts individuals to consider alternative perspectives and to engage in perspectivetaking, both of which are effective strategies that have been found to reduce bias (Blair et al., 2001;Lilienfeld et al., 2009). ...
Article
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Book clubs are a well-known form of social engagement and are beneficial for those who take part, yet book clubs are not fully realized within management as a site for learning. This is unfortunate because book clubs that read fiction can foster social processes and help employees in search of more critical and emancipatory forms of learning. We theoretically synthesize the literature to advance current thinking with regard to book clubs as critical public pedagogy in organizations. We begin by introducing book clubs as non-formal adult learning. Then, book clubs that employ fiction as a cultural artifact are presented as a way for members to build relationships, learn together, and to engage in cultural change work. Next, the traditional notions of book clubs are made pedagogically complex through the lens of critical public pedagogy. Finally, we offer two implications: (1) as public pedagogy, book clubs can act as an alternative to traditional learning structures in organizations; and (2) book clubs, when valued as public pedagogy, can be fostered by those in management learning and HRD for consciousness raising and challenging existing mental models in their organizations.
... Consequently, the consumption of narrative allows for efficient experiential learning through simulation (Mar & Oatley, 2008). Studies that show fiction draws upon and improves social cognitive abilities support this perspective that narrative and its processing may serve as an evolutionary tool for the simulated practice and honing of more general cognitive abilities (Tamir et al., 2016;Oatley, 2016;Eekhof et al., 2021). ...
... Counterfactual reasoning has also been associated with cognitive decoupling, which allows humans to extract and isolate sets of representations from contingently true information, which includes fiction, to solve problems by applying them only to relevant cases and contexts, thereby avoiding the pitfalls of faulty inference-making (Leslie, 1987;Tooby & Cosmides, 2001). Like the benefits of fictional simulation outlined by Oatley (2016), counterfactual thinking in multiversionality may serve an adaptive function of allowing one to play-out imagined situations to fictively experience novel situations. Consequently, counterfactuals may also serve an evolutionary benefit of expanding the number of experiences from which to learn. ...
Article
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This paper proposes a conceptual framework of multiversional narrative processing, or multiversionality. Multiversionality is the consideration of multiple possible event sequences for an incomplete narrative during reception, from reading a novel to listening to the story of a friend’s day. It occurs naturally and is experienced in a wide range of cases, such as suspense, surprise, counterfactuals, and detective stories. Receiving a narrative, we propose, is characterized by the spontaneous creation of competing interpretive models of the narrative that are then used to create predictions and projections for the narrative’s future. These predictions serve as a mechanism for integrating incoming information and updating the narrative model through prediction error, without completely eliminating past versions. We define this process as having three aspects: (1) constrained expectations, (2) preference projection, and (3) causal extrapolation. Constrained expectations and preference projections respectively create the bounds and subjective desires for a narrative’s progress, while causal extrapolation builds, reworks, and maintains the potential models for understanding the narrative. We offer multiversionality as a novel framework for thinking about narrative, social cognition, and decision making that presents adaptive benefits and future directions for empirical study.
... Our main focus is on processes known as theory-of-mind (often called "mindreading"), or the ability to understand the intentions, thoughts, and emotions of other people. It also includes empathy, broadly understood as both sharing the emotions of others as well as being able to see things from their perspective (Davis, 1980;Oatley, 2016). There is evidence that engagement with stories is associated with better understanding of others, together with more empathy for them. ...
... Mental simulations allow our minds to travel far and wide; they take us into the past or future, to far-off worlds or hypothetical events, or even into the mind of another person Hassabis et al., 2007;Hassabis & Maguire, 2009;Okuda et al., 2003;Szpunar et al., 2007;Tamir & Mitchell, 2011). Stories recruit the default network because they stimulate our minds to engage in two particular forms of simulation: the simulation of people and the simulation of physical places (Mar, 2004(Mar, , 2011Mason & Just, 2009;Nijhof & Willems, 2015;Oatley, 2016;Speer et al., 2009). ...
Chapter
Fiction-when it is listened to, or when it appears in print, film, and video games-introduces people not only to storyworlds, but also to characters, their relationships, and complex social interactions. A growing body of research suggests that people who listen to, read, or watch fiction may learn social skills from stories through various mechanisms, including identifying with and forming parasocial relationships with characters, and simulating the social experiences depicted in the story. This chapter begins by reviewing theories that explain the potential effects of engaging with fiction and the possible mechanisms through which these effects might manifest. We then describe the methods used to investigate the effects of fiction and present a brief overview of both cor-relational and experimental findings. This overview indicates that there is robust evidence of an association between lifetime exposure to fiction and social cognition, but results from experimental studies have been mixed. Finally, we identify the most important gaps in the current research and propose directions for future research. Despite recent efforts to test the effects of manipulating engagement with fiction on a limited range of social cognitive abilities, many aspects of social cognition have yet to be explored, and there is a clear need for longitudinal intervention studies.
... The self-other blurring afforded by reading could permit autistic people to implement their own perspectives to understand and relate to social information (Koopman & Hakemulder, 2015). Therefore, the additional information provided in texts (Oatley, 2016) may help to overcome real-life barriers autistic people encounter when trying to understand neurotypical perspectives (Milton et al., 2018). ...
Article
Background While research has consistently highlighted the usefulness of narrative texts for social development, this has not been fully explored with autistic adults. It has long been assumed that autistic individuals lack the social understanding to contemplate fiction, preferring non-fiction. This study aimed to explore the self-reported reading habits of autistic adults compared to neurotypical adults, accounting for higher education demands. Methods A qualitative design was used, with 43 participants (22 autistic; 21 neurotypical) completing a reading habits questionnaire and subsequent semi-structured interview. Results Neurotypical participants tended to prefer fiction, with autistic participants showing no preference between fiction and non-fiction. Four themes were identified from interview data (1) reading material choices; (2) text investment; (3) in-text social understanding; and (4) reading as a social learning device. Both groups reported evidence of empathising, perspective-taking and social understanding while reading. The autistic group additionally reported social learning outcomes from reading. Discussion Findings contradict prior assumptions that autistic individuals lack the social understanding required by fiction. Instead, findings show that social benefits of narrative texts extend to autistic readers, providing important social learning experiences.
... The importance of literary reading has had the attention of several authors and has given rise to wide-ranging interdisciplinary debates. Oatley (2016), in the scope of the cognitive sciences, referred that the reading of literary works can be thought of as a form of awareness of oneself and the other, allowing inner changes that are related to the reader's involvement with the story. According to the author, this happens because characters and complex circumstances in which ...
Conference Paper
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The implementation of the ACRL Framework has been a challenge for higher education librarians. This study proposes an unconventional way of adopting the opportunities of literary reading to teach the six conceptual frames recommended by this guiding document. From a literature review on the importance that literary reading has in the individual's life as well as the experiences of higher education libraries in the promotion of literary reading, a reflection emerges on the opportunity to teach information skills in this context. The main objective of this work is to make a creative and innovative contribution to the practical and situated application of the ACRL Framework in a non-traditional context, exploring literary reading to explain concepts, dispositions, and practices. For each conceptual frame are listed examples and situated learning strategies, which can contribute to the acquisition of essential and structuring instruments of the mechanisms necessary for information skills. Regarding specifically reading comprehension, it is important to work on the ability to extract relevant information from written texts so that it becomes a powerful tool for obtaining and processing information, transversal learning, and social insertion and is not reduced to school learning, but reveals its potential in extra-scholarly contexts, such as reading groups, meetings with authors, or the constitution of specific collections for leisure reading in university libraries.
... In the nineteenth century, characters aged over the course of a series, whereas in the middle of the twentieth century, girls' series followed the series books guideline that had the characters aging very little or not at all. 15 Girls' literature studies seem to be very lively today, and their previously marginal position in the literary research has been diminished. 16 Girls' literature has been explored enthusiastically in the Nordic Countries like Sweden and Finland. ...
Article
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The Tiina book series for girls circulated in Finland for a considerable period of thirty years (1956–1986). This girls’ series was quite popular among young girls during the whole period, and the protagonist Tiina has appealed to young Finnish readers for decades. Different generations have read the girls’ books about the brave and tomboy heroine. Girls’ series books are part of the girls’ literature genre, which was developed originally in the mid-nineteenth century. This article explores the reading and reception of Tiina books in the context of the Finnish and international girls’ literature and reading research. Female readers of various ages participated in a reading survey and submitted written accounts of their experiences reading the Tiina books. In particular, this article seeks to examine the engagement of readers with the books and the girl protagonist.
... On the theoretical side, storytelling can effectively contribute to our understanding of urban phenomenology, due to the palimpsestic nature of urban spaces (Marshall et al. 2017). On the side of practices, stories are a crucial element of participatory processes and stakeholder engagement (Quick 2018), working as forms of social simulation and intersubjective validation of shared experience (Oatley 1999(Oatley , 2016. As the social dimension of knowledge takes the form of spatialized narratives of human action (Turnbull 2002), planning practice itself may be characterized as a form of persuasive storytelling (Throgmorton 2003), which may function as a source of community empowerment (Throgmorton 2007), but also of community deprivation, if the narrative dimension gets instrumentalized to serve vested interests promoted by the planning agency (Tucker 2017). ...
Article
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This paper examines Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities as a unique literary canvas to reformulate the relationship between narratives and planning practices. It does so from the vantage point of the Frame, namely, the dialogues between the Khan (the planner) and Marco Polo (the resident/traveler) punctuating the imaginary cities described in the book. Read through with the aid of narratological concepts, the Frame functions a mini-treatise on urban complexity, structured along nine dyads of oppositional concepts (e.g., chaos vs. meaning; reality vs. possibility), which call into question as many planning milestones (e.g., control, purpose, model, balance), fostering an original reflection on the limitations and potentials of planning practices.
... Relatedly, cognitive scientists have found that readers improve their understanding of others through reading narratives (Oatley, 2016). We believe composite first-person narrative is a useful approach for achieving the purpose of counterstorytelling: to tell the stories of subordinated experiences to raise consciousness about oppression. ...
... Recent research into the universal human interest in narratives and storytelling provides insight into possible mechanisms. One main hypothesis is derived from a process known as "narrative transportation," a dynamic and complex interaction between language, text, and imagination which creates a state of cognitive and emotional immersion that deeply engages listeners in the world of the narrative (13)(14)(15). Stories invite readers or listeners to immerse themselves in the portrayed action and thus lose themselves for the duration of the narrative. During this process, the world of origin becomes partially inaccessible to the listener, marking a separation in terms of the "here" and the "there," the "now" and the "before," the narrative world of the story and the world of origin. ...
Article
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Storytelling is a distinctive human characteristic that may have played a fundamental role in humans’ ability to bond and navigate challenging social settings throughout our evolution. However, the potential impact of storytelling on regulating physiological and psychological functions has received little attention. We investigated whether listening to narratives from a storyteller can provide beneficial effects for children admitted to intensive care units. Biomarkers (oxytocin and cortisol), pain scores, and psycholinguistic associations were collected immediately before and after storytelling and an active control intervention (solving riddles that also involved social interaction but lacked the immersive narrative aspect). Compared with the control group, children in the storytelling group showed a marked increase in oxytocin combined with a decrease in cortisol in saliva after the 30-min intervention. They also reported less pain and used more positive lexical markers when describing their time in hospital. Our findings provide a psychophysiological basis for the short-term benefits of storytelling and suggest that a simple and inexpensive intervention may help alleviate the physical and psychological pain of hospitalized children on the day of the intervention.
... The results of these studies are interpreted as stemming from the fact that narrative fiction simulates social life: readers are transported into the fictional world, and they identify with characters, feel their emotions, and imagine their thoughts and desires. In doing so, they engage in mentalizing and thus train their ToM skills (Oatley, 2016). Recent research has qualified this conclusion and proposed a complementary account of the effect of reading fiction on mind-reading. ...
Article
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We investigated the impact of exposure to literary and popular fiction on psychological essentialism. Exposure to fiction was measured by using the Author Recognition Test, which allows us to separate exposure to authors of literary and popular fiction. Psychological essentialism was assessed by the discreteness subscale of the psychological essentialism scale in Study 1, and by the three subscales of the same scale (such as discreteness, informativeness, and biological basis) in Study 2 that was pre-registered. Results showed that exposure to literary fiction negatively predicts the three subscales. The results emerged controlling for political ideology, a variable that is commonly associated with psychological essentialism, and level of education.
... Substantial heterogeneity exists in the performance of ToM tasks in adult populations. Research has shown that ToM is enhanced by learning a second language (Rubio-Fernández and Glucksberg, 2012), acting (Goldstein and Winner, 2012), meditation practices (Mascaro et al., 2013), and, particularly, reading fiction (Mar and Oatley, 2008;Oatley, 2016). Exposure to fiction predicts performance on ToM tasks, even after controlling for variables such as age, gender, experience with the English language, intelligence, transportation (in the narrative), and personality traits (Mar et al., 2006;Mar et al., 2009). ...
Article
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Research shows that reading literary but not popular fiction enhances the Theory of Mind (ToM). This article builds on the symmetry between literary theory and film theory and investigates whether exposure to art films, but not Hollywood films, enhances ToM. Participants (N = 232) were randomly assigned to view either art or Hollywood films and then answered questions about the film and its characters before completing two separate measures of ToM (the Read the Mind in the Eyes Test and the Moral Judgement Task). Results showed that art film viewers scored higher on both ToM measures and that the effect was sequentially mediated by perception of complexity and predictability of the characters. The findings are discussed in the context of the emerging literature on the impact of fiction on social cognition.
... Simulation hypotheses argue that stories, like flight simulators, instruct through simulation (Oatley, 2008). Oatley and Mar, for example, hypothesized two functions of fictional stories: (1) They develop abstract models of the social world, and (2) they encourage simulation of these models, developing empathy and theory of mind abilities (Mar & Oatley, 2008;Oatley, 1999Oatley, , 2016Oatley & Mar, 2005). Hobbs (1990) and then Pinker (1997Pinker ( , 2007, meanwhile, argued that fiction is less about abstract models or empathy and more about testing out strategies (see also Clasen, Kjeldgaard-Christiansen, & Johnson, 2020;Morin, Acerbi, & Sobchuk, 2019). ...
Article
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The sympathetic plot-featuring a goal-directed protagonist who confronts obstacles, overcomes them, and wins rewards-is ubiquitous. Here, I propose that it recurs because it entertains, engaging two sets of psychological mechanisms. First, it triggers mechanisms for learning about obstacles and how to overcome them. It builds interest by confronting a protagonist with a problem and induces satisfaction when the problem is solved. Second, it evokes sympathetic joy. It establishes the protagonist as an ideal cooperative partner pursuing a goal, appealing to mechanisms for helping. When the protagonist succeeds, they receive rewards, and audiences feel sympathetic joy, an emotion normally triggered when beneficiaries triumph. The capacities underlying the sympathetic plot evolved for learning and cooperation before being co-opted for entertainment.
... There is a sense of meaningmaking, attachment, and connection that is possible through story-allowing us to understand that we are "not alone" and "we matter." Highlighting such possibilities, recent research has highlighted the possibilities of fiction to help build resilience and senses of empathy, particularly as young readers relate to the situations and characters in books (Oatley, 2016). In terms of fostering senses of connection, work on Indigeneity and decoloniality has also highlighted the power of story to connect not only to other humans, but also to other more-than-human beings, and to land and territory (Borrows, 2002;Hayman, 2015;Schulz, 2017), including stories that convey teachings, laws, and governance practices over generations (see also Borona, 2017 on the role of storytelling for forest communities in Kenya, especially to maintain community knowledge in the context of colonization). ...
Article
Work on narrative, story, and storytelling has been on the rise across the humanities and social sciences. Building on significant work on these themes from Indigenous, Black, and Feminist scholarship, and other varied traditions, this piece explores and elaborates the potential regarding the elicitation, sharing, and analysis of stories for nature-society studies. Specifically, the piece examines core contributions along these lines to date, as well as the methodological, analytical, political, and transformative potential of story and storytelling to enrich, broaden, and deepen work in nature-society, political ecology, and environmental justice. All told, focus on story and storytelling, offers a number of relevant and rich openings to understand and engage complex, unequal, and dynamic socio-natures. While these elements have been present in nature-society work from some traditions and lines of inquiry, the time is ripe to broaden and deepen these engagements to more fully imagine, and respond to, key nature-society challenges.
... Likevel får hun støtte fra nyere forskning, der blant annet nevropsykologene Duncan et al. (2017) argumenterer for at Nussbaums innsikter er veldokumentert i empirisk forskning. Nussbaums argumenter gir også resonans i moderne litteraturteori der blant annet Oatley (2016) viser hvordan skjønnlitteratur påvirker vår forståelse av verden og hvordan mennesker som leser mye skårer høyere på empati enn de som ikke leser skjønnlitteratur. ...
Article
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I den nye læreplanen (LK20) ble folkehelse og livsmestring innført som tverrfaglig tema i norsk skole. Denne studien undersøker begrepsforståelse, skjønnlitteraturens betyd­ning og didaktikk knyttet til temaet. Våren 2019 ble 13 norsklærere fra fem videre­gående skoler intervjuet ved bruk av en semi-strukturert intervjuguide. Den tematiske analysen av datamaterialet viser følgende resultater: Lærerne formulerte utfordringer ved å skulle operasjonalisere begreper som mangler definisjon i de offentlige doku­mentene. Samtidig ga lærerne uttrykk for at livsmestring allerede er en del av norsk­faget. Lærerne pekte på at eksamensstyringen vektlegger de tekniske aspektene i norsk­undervisningen, noe som begrenser muligheten for tematisering. Lærerne anerkjente potensialet for at skjønnlitteraturen kunne brukes for å belyse folkehelse og livsmestring gjennom å veilede elevene mot å finne balansen mellom nærhet og distanse til teksten. Dette berører begrepet den skjønnsomme leseren (Nussbaum, 2016). Lærerne pekte på hvordan skjønnlitteratur kan oppleves som personlig relevant, historisk aktuell og fremme empatisk respons. Bruk av skjønnlitteratur åpner også for å undervise om vanskelige temaer uten å være for personlig, men dette krever pedagogisk intendert didaktikk. Lærerne uttrykte behovet for mer didaktisk kunnskap for å skape denne balansen, særlig i møte med sensitive temaer. I forståelsen og formidlingen av det tverrfaglige temaet folkehelse og livsmestring argumenter vi for at det er behov for å fremme og utvikle norskfagets egen diskurs og didaktikk. Studien er tilknyttet videre­gående opplæring, men vi mener den har overføringsverdi til alle skoleslag. Nøkkelord: folkehelse og livsmestring, norsklærere, litteraturdidaktikk, skjønnlitteratur, norskfaget
... The importance of literary reading has had the attention of several authors and has given rise to wide-ranging interdisciplinary debates. Oatley (2016), in the scope of the cognitive sciences, referred that the reading of literary works can be thought of as a form of awareness of oneself and the other, allowing inner changes that are related to the reader's involvement with the story. According to the author, this happens because characters and complex circumstances in which ...
Book
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WBIMLC 2020 celebrates the clear enthusiasm and passion of IL enthusiasts not only in the Western Balkans but on the international level. Given the topic of this year‘s Conference, Information literacy: know it, teach it, live it WBIMLC 2020 also highlights the relevance of Information Literacy in today‘s world. Information Literacy can be a very convincing antidote to these complex issues. IL can help us decipher whether information is accurate and trustful, enables is to look at who is behind the information, how they operate, what motives they might have. IL helps us to be free when rejecting or accepting it. Getting to the truth with Information Literacy. This year, the International Summit of the Book was held in conjunction with the Western Balkan Information and Media Literacy Conference (WBIMLC). Owing to unprecedented challenges encountered with Covid 19, we have decided to amalgamate these two important conferences for just this one year. We want to ensure that these two important and far-reaching events take place in 2020 despite this dreadful worldwide pandemic. We are fighting to keep the International Summit of Book, now in its 9th year, alive and thriving despite the recent trials and tribulations in Beirut, Lebanon last year when the Summit unfortunately could not take place owing to the political situation in Lebanon at that time. We also want to continue the momentum and tradition of holding our fantastic Information and Media Literacy conference in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of the few International Library or Information Literacy conferences that will take place in 2020. As we all know 2020 is different, unprecedented many would say. So, we did it differently this time. Online was the main expression of these conferences and both the Summit and WBIMLC 2020 were held virtually for the first time. These two conferences were momentous and historic events in what will be an unforgettable year for the library community and all humanity.
... The reason for differences in behavioral engagement metrics between experiments may be manifold. Engagement with narrative materials requires individuals to generate and maintain mental models of events, situations, and characters (Zwaan et al., 1995;Mar and Oatley, 2008;Oatley, 2016;Zwaan, 2016). Disruptions to mental model generation and maintenance may reduce engagement with a narrative (Busselle and Bilandzic, 2009). ...
Preprint
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Older people with hearing problems often experience difficulties understanding speech in the presence of background sound. As a result, they may disengage in social situations, which has been associated with negative psychosocial health outcomes. Measuring listening (dis-)engagement during challenging listening situations has received little attention thus far. We recruit normal-hearing human adults (both sexes) and investigate how speech intelligibility and engagement during naturalistic story listening is affected by the level of acoustic masking (12-talker babble) at different signal-to-noise ratios (SNRs). In Experiment 1, we observed that word-report scores were above 80% for all but the lowest SNR (-3 dB SNR) we tested, at which performance dropped to 54%. In Experiment 2, we calculated inter-subject correlation (ISC) using electroencephalography (EEG) data to identify dynamic spatial patterns of shared neural activity evoked by the stories. ISC has previously been used as a measure of participants engagement with naturalistic materials. Our results show that ISC was stable across all but the lowest SNRs, despite reduced speech intelligibility. Comparing ISC and intelligibility directly demonstrated that word-report performance declined more strongly with decreasing SNR compared to ISC. Our data suggest individuals remain engaged in story listening despite missing words due to background noise. Our work provides a potentially fruitful approach to investigate listener engagement with naturalistic, spoken stories that may be used to investigate (dis)engagement in older adults with hearing impairment.
... In light of the mounting problem with fake news (e.g., Hari 2022), the heightened focus on critical literacy is understandable. However, such a focus threatens to make other, equally important, aspects of reading less visiblee.g., the cognitive persistence required to follow longer stretches and lines of argument (Rose, 2013;Wolf, 2016Wolf, , 2018; the ability to imagine people and places in narratives based on various techniques of description (Magyari et al., 2020;Oatley, 1999Oatley, , 2016; and the capacity to contemplate and dwell on phenomena and events occurring in long stretches of literary texts (Burke, 2010;Wolf, 2018). ...
Article
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Discussions of digital technologies in education should take into consideration the role of analogue technologies – such as print books – especially when it comes to reading. Empirical research (Delgado et al., 2018; Kong et al., 2018; Clinton, 2019; Singer & Alexander, 2017) shows that paper supports comprehension better than screens, especially when reading longer and more complex texts. PISA 2019 shows that reading performance has declined in many countries, and teenagers report a significant drop in leisure reading. This article reviews and discusses these findings, in light of how reading and literacy have been redefined on the premises and affordances of digital technologies, and calls for a heightened attention to important aspects of reading that are now being marginalized – namely, those that are least compatible with digital technologies.
... Thus, participants became faster over time in congruent trials. In line with evidence of enhanced perspective taking and empathy from both writing (Manney, 2008;Oatley and Djikic, 2008) and reading stories (Djikic et al., 2013;Oatley, 2016), it is possible that felt security may have been temporarily increased by the mere act of story creation, regardless of condition/content of the story. Indeed, although neutral stories did not contain secure-base script interactions, some did include both another person and an interaction. ...
Article
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Microsaccades are small fixational eye movements that have shown to index covert attentional shifts. The present experiment combined microsaccades with performance measures from a dot-probe task to study influences of attachment security priming on the attentional biases of individuals high in attachment avoidance. Security priming is an experimental manipulation aimed at boosting felt security. Using a randomized, mixed design, we measured differences in attentional vigilance toward angry and neutral faces as a function of priming (neutral vs. secure) and attachment avoidance. Individuals high in avoidance habitually tend to withdraw from, or otherwise dismiss, emotionally salient stimuli. Here, we operationalized attentional withdrawal based on both task performance in the dot-probe task and microsaccadic movements. In addition, unlike previous studies where priming salience for the individual participant has been unclear, we used a standardized narrative method for attachment script assessment, securing an indication of how strongly each participant was primed. Dot-probe data significantly captured the link between avoidance and attentional disengagement, though from all facial stimuli (angry and neutral). Although microsaccadic movements did not capture avoidant attentional disengagement, they positively correlated to dot-probe data suggesting measurement convergence. Avoidance was associated with weaker security priming and no overall effect of priming on attention was found, indicating a need for further exploration of suitable priming methods to bypass avoidant deactivation. Our results provide a first indication that, as an implicit looking measure, microsaccadic movements can potentially reveal where early attention is directed at the exact moment of stimulus presentation.
... Different accounts suggest different advantages for narrative comprehension, regardless of the medium. For example, a narrative may enable simulation of social situations that improve empathy and theory-of-mind abilities (e.g., Mar & Oatley, 2008;Oatley, 2016). ...
Preprint
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Narrative comprehension may be considered as one of the most essential aspects of reading books as well as watching movies or TV series. Although narratives can sometimes overlap, it would be inaccurate to claim that the reader's experience is the same as that of the viewer. Can a similar argument be made with respect to the cognitive processes involved in narrative comprehension? Different theoretical approaches emphasize that different cognitive processes are involved in narrative comprehension. Quasi-perception, completion of perception, simulation processes and assimilation in narrative imagery are four relevant perspectives, with extensive, diverse and up-to-date empirical research, as well as a broad theoretical discourse. These different perspectives imply different cognitive bases of narrative comprehension in reading versus watching. In the present chapter, we present key concepts and findings in each of the above perspectives and examine how they can affect narrative comprehension during reading and watching. Importantly, cognitive research cannot unequivocally prioritize one medium (i.e., books) over another (i.e., TV series). Nonetheless, we suggest seriously considering reading as an act that manipulates more cognitive processes and allows for a richer and deeper narrative comprehension compared with watching.
... This increase in confidence in itself is intrinsically motivating. Another way in which the whole person is educated is that reading literature increases a person's emotional awareness; we become more empathetic (Lazar, 1993;Oatley, 2016). ...
Conference Paper
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Traced back to the existence of a perceived threat, students with test anxiety (TA) will experience varying levels of cognitive, physiological, and/or behavioral responses. Depending on the degree of a particular response or combination of responses, a student's academic performance can be negatively impacted. When TA affects outcomes on "high-stakes" Japanese university college-entrance examinations, for example, future prospects can be permanently altered. Moreover, if testing systems do not factor in the existence of TA, the validity of the test itself is open to criticism because a test anxious student's IQ may not be accurately assessed. For theses reasons, it is my view that the nature and measurement of TA should be carefully scrutinized. In the following narrative review, (a) the high-stakes testing system in Japan, (b) the relationship between anxiety, performance and flow, and (c) the background of TA research will be discussed. The final section addresses the main aim of this narrative review, which is to assess the value of integrating self-reported measures of Japanese college entrance examination TA with heart rate response.
... Yet, a growing body of work has questioned such a dismissive view of fiction and of its relevance for humans (Richardson 2011), pointing out how fictional narratives may have a strong socio-cognitive and socio-affective valence (Boyd 2010), and how readers may develop forms of emotional attachment to imaginary characters that are analogous to real life ones, possibly with profound existential implications (Vermeule 2010). Specifically, reading fiction contributes to the development of key skills for human social cognition such as theory of mind (Zunshine 2006;Kydd and Castano 2013), or problem solving-oriented simulation of complex social situations (Mar and Oatley 2008;Oatley 2016). ...
Article
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Fictional narratives cannot be considered as mere escapist entertainment, and have a significant social cognition potential. Their study is also important in understanding the mechanisms of behavioral change, as many fictions focus on processes of personal transformation of the main characters. Romantic fictions are of special interest in this regard, as the formation of a new couple entails negotiation and mutual adaptation between partners, with possible transformation of personal attitudes, value orientations, and behaviors: ‘marrying’ a new idea or cause is, tellingly, the strongest possible metaphorical statement of adoption. Korean TV series (K-dramas) are a particularly interesting source of case studies in this regard due to the specific characteristics of their production system. We analyze a K-drama, My Ajussi, where the lead characters go through a complex process of personal change, through the lens of the so-called Tie-Up Theory, which has proven useful in the analysis and interpretation of fictional representations of human mating processes, and show how the context provided by the potential formation of the couple between the two main characters provides us with valuable insights about human behavioral change and for policy design strategies to tackle societal challenges.
... They also describe experiencing positive emotional states including absorption (Jamieson, 2005), which is characterized by extreme focusing, flow, and elation, and aesthetic feelings, such as a feeling of wonder, when they succeed in producing a new palindrome. These emotions and feelings could bear resemblance with those experienced during storytelling and the creation of narratives (Oatley, 2016;Oatley, Dunbar, & Budelmann, 2018), as well as to aesthetic experiences described in other artistic domains, like visual arts or music (Ferreri et al., 2021;Skov, 2019). Further, well-developed long-term interests are characterized by positive feelings and increased stored knowledge, creating added value for maintaining certain behaviours needed for achieving constructive and creative endeavours (Hidi & Renninger, 2006) (for example, see [Loewenstein, 1999] for an insightful analysis about Mountaineering passion). ...
Article
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Humans seem to be inherently driven to engage in wordplay. An example is the creation of palindromes – sentences that read the same backward and forward. This activity can be framed as a curiosity-driven behaviour, in which individuals seek for information that serves no direct purpose and in the absence of external rewards. In this fMRI case study, an experienced palindrome creator was scanned while he generated palindromes with different levels of difficulty. Palindrome creation was alternated with resting periods and with a working memory task, both serving as control conditions. Relative to resting, palindrome creation recruited frontal domain-specific language networks and fronto-parietal domain-general networks. The comparison with the working memory task evidenced partial overlap with the multiple-demand cortex, which participates in solving a variety of cognitively challenging tasks. Intriguingly, greater difficulty during palindrome creation differentially activated the right frontopolar cortex (BA 10), a region that was also linked to palindrome resolution. The latter is consistent with exploratory behaviour – in this case, with seeking new but interdependent linguistic segments within a complex internal model (i.e., a palindromic structure)– and bears resemblance with brain substrates sustaining hard logical reasoning, altogether pointing to a commonplace for curiosity in discovering new and complex relations.
... When people read fiction, they improve their understanding of others due to the process of engagement in stories, which includes making inferences and becoming emotionally involved (Oatley, 2016). This study builds on Keith Oatley's assumption that reading fiction which is a simulation of social worlds augments everyday empathic cognition generated by the brain when witnessing other people acting. ...
Article
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Readers according to Virginia Woolf are co-creators of the text with writers. Reading requires letting imagination loose in order to become transported into a text, thus, eliciting cognitive empathy. Empathy has become recently a field of interest in several disciplines, among which is fiction. Empathic emotions can be elicited in readers, according to Keith Oatley, while reading fiction. This elicitation can be achieved through certain narrative techniques that mostly focus on identification with fictional characters. Using Suzanne Keen's theory of narrative empathy and the theory of mind, adopted from Cognitive Psychology, this study will attempt to examine how Junot Diaz, in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, utilizes narration of empathy that relies on alteration in narrative voice and authorial point of view, shifts in narrational focalization and other narrative and linguistic devices to immerse the reader in the story world of his novel. The study aspires to be an addition to the new branch of Cognitive Literary Studies that investigates literature through the focus of brain science and by extension the usefulness of Cognitive Studies to Literary Studies and vice versa.
... The world of fictional stories presents young children with an opportunity to transcend their everyday experiences to be exposed to a wide range of both familiar and fantastical characters, settings, and plots. Oatley (2016) argues that fictional stories simulate our social worlds and thus provide children and adults with opportunities to experience more complex characters and events than they would experience in daily life. As a result, it is possible that children's home literacy environment (HLE), e.g., exposure to a greater number of books in the home, is related to children's theory of mind, which refers to the ability to understand the mental states (e.g., emotions, beliefs) of oneself and to infer the mental states of others. ...
Article
Personal reading history, in particular reading fiction, is related to theory of mind in adulthood; yet little work has examined reading experiences and theory of mind in early childhood. This study examined the home literacy environment (HLE) and theory of mind in 516 3- to 6-year-olds (Mage = 4;10 years; 53% female; 80% White). Eleven aspects of the HLE were examined and four HLE components were extracted. Most aspects of the HLE (e.g., reading frequency, number of books) were correlated with children’s theory of mind; one component, book exposure, was moderately related (r = 0.48) to theory of mind and remained a significant predictor controlling for several covariates (e.g., child age, parent education, family size). This component included the onset of reading to children, the number of children’s books in the home, and how frequently children visited the library. There was a significant interaction between child age and book exposure; the strength of the association between book exposure and theory of mind was relatively stronger for younger children than for older children. Book exposure also partially mediated the relation between parent education and theory of mind. These results contribute to our understanding of family predictors of children’s theory of mind.
... A importância da leitura literária tem tido a atenção de diversos autores e dado espaço a amplos debates de cariz interdisciplinar. Oatley (2016), no âmbito das ciências cognitivas, referia que a leitura de obras literárias pode ser pensada como uma forma de consciencialização de si próprio e do outro, permitindo mudanças interiores que se relacionam com o envolvimento do leitor com a história. Segundo o autor, isso acontece porque personagens e circunstâncias complexas em que elas se encontram são percebidas através da leitura literária (não se encontrando com frequência as mesmas na vida real). ...
Article
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O presente estudo tem como objetivo, por um lado, refletir sobre as práticas de leitura no seio da biblioteca universitária, descrevendo e explicando as diversas possibilidades e a sua ligação com o propósito da formação universitária, e por outro demonstrar como uma atividade de leitura extra letiva na academia – um grupo de leitura – pode proporcionar experiências de leitura significativas para os envolvidos. Para tal, o estudo desenvolve uma reflexão teórica, baseada numa revisão de literatura, que evidencia os contributos da leitura literária e dos grupos de leitura em contexto académico para a dinâmica da aprendizagem ao longo da vida. Seguidamente, analisam-se entrevistas a participantes de um grupo de leitura, levado a cabo numa biblioteca universitária, procurando explorar o impacto das experiências declaradas neste âmbito no seu quotidiano. Conclui-se que os grupos de leitura se assumem como uma estratégia essencial de promoção da leitura literária e de aprendizagem de competências transversais, designadamente competências académicas assentes na reflexão crítica, na oralidade e na interação relacional, revelando-se, a par, o entrelaçamento da leitura partilhada com o quotidiano de cada um dos participantes, que vai para além da vida na academia. O estudo deixa pistas para um campo extenso de reflexão e ação.
... ampliar nuestros modelos cognitivos y conocimiento sobre el mundo, haciéndonos, al final, más empáticos (Oatley, 2016). ...
Article
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La narración es parte central de nuestra esencia como seres humanos. Todas las culturas conocidas tienen historias que se divulgan de generación en generación, ya sea de forma oral o escrita, y son tan importantes que se ha propuesto que el origen del hombre moderno se encuentra en la transmisión de esas historias (Smith et al., 2017). La escritura facilitó la difusión de historias que se daban de forma oral, convirtiendo al libro en el objeto que permitió una de las revoluciones culturales más im-portantes de la humanidad. La literatura nace de estas narraciones y su desarrollo ha acompañado al ser humano desde el inicio. Los libros son más que información en papel, a través de ellos compartimos conocimiento, contamos historias, conocemos personajes reales y ficticios, recreamos sucesos históricos, inventamos mundos mágicos y futuristas. Gran parte de las personas pueden identificar algún libro que disfrutaron, que cambió su forma de pensar o incluso que marcó su vida de forma significativa. Si un libro puede causar este tipo de impresiones ¿es posible que tenga la fuerza suficiente para generar cambios en nuestro cerebro, e incluso en nuestra salud?
... Il lavoro degli studiosi della teoria evolutiva e dell'antropologia suggerisce che le storie hanno avuto un ruolo significativo nell'evoluzione della cognizione umana (Boyd, 2009;Oatley, Dunbar, Budelmann, 2018;Wiessner, 2014). Nell'ultimo decennio la ricerca ha studiato i processi coinvolti nella costruzione mentale dei mondi fittizi (Jacobs, Willems, 2018), il modo in cui i lettori sono trasportati in tali mondi (Thompson et al., 2018), e l'impatto che il coinvolgimento nella finzione ha sulla cognizione (Oatley, 2016). Particolare attenzione è stata dedicata alla relazione tra il coinvolgimento nella finzione e i processi di mentalizzazione dal punto di vista della scienza cognitiva (per una rassegna, Mar, 2018) e nel campo emergente della teoria letteraria cognitiva (per esempio, Zunshine, 2012). ...
Book
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Il libro, che nasce dall’esigenza di fare il punto sui risultati e sui metodi della ricerca empirica relativa alla lettura ad alta voce, riproduce cinque studi condotti in diverse parti del mondo, scelti in modo da essere rappresentativi di differenti orientamenti e metodi di indagine, oltre che di prestigiose riviste internazionali ad accesso libero (open access) e peer reviewed. La diffusione in lingua italiana di questi contributi, introdotta da un sag- gio di Federico Batini su La lettura, i metodi di ricerca, l’importanza della condivisione (open access), la collaborazione internazionale, intende sol- lecitare anche nel nostro Paese insegnanti, studiosi e decisori ad attribuire un ruolo fondamentale alla didattica della lettura ad alta voce durante l’intero percorso di istruzione ed educazione, e non solo nella fascia infantile, su cui tendono a concentrarsi già da alcuni decenni le azioni educative e le attività di ricerca. Il futuro della lettura ad alta voce, se osservato dal particolare punto di vista della ricerca internazionale, sembra promettere, in risposta a una maggiore consapevolezza degli effetti dell’esposizione alla lettura, un’intensificazione delle indagini e un ampliamento del campo di applicazione didattica alle età scolari. Testi di Susan Ledger, Margaret K. Merga, Jennifer Kohart Marchessault, Karen H. Larwin, Oladotun Opeoluwa Olagbaju, Olubunmi Racheal Babalola, Emanuele Castano, Alison Jane Martingano, Pietro Perconti, Marloes Schrijvers, Tanja Janssen, Olivia Fialho, Gert Rijlaarsdam. Il volume è curato da: Federico Batini, professore associato di Pedagogia sperimentale all’Università degli Studi di Perugia. (Federico Batini è autore di oltre 350 pubblicazioni scientifiche; tra le ultime sui temi di questo volume si segnalano: Ad alta voce. La lettura che fa bene a tutti (Giunti, 2021) e, con S. Giusti (a cura di), Tecniche per la lettura ad alta voce (2021, FrancoAngeli); Lettura ad alta voce (Carocci, 2022). Dirige il Master in Orientamento Narrativo e Prevenzione della Dispersione scolastica (Dipartimento FISSUF, Università degli Studi di Perugia) e le riviste LLL (Lifelong Lifewide Learning) ed Effetti di Lettura (Cepell). Responsabile scientifico del progetto Leggere: Forte! Ad alta voce fa crescere l’intelligenza della Regione Toscana, del progetto nazionale Leggimi ancora (Giunti Scuola), del progetto Lettrici e Lettori Forti (Fondazione Cariparma) e di Ad Alta Voce Porta Palazzo (Riconnessioni-Fondazione Scuola) e del progetto Educare alla lettura Ad Alta Voce (Salone del Libro - Cepell).
... Selterman and colleagues (2012) analysed the dreams of 61 undergraduates in a committed relationship for secure base script elements. They found attachment security to correlate with the number of dreams about 18 For a social simulation function for reading fiction, see Mar and Oatley (2008) and Oatley (2016). romantic partners and the likelihood of dreams containing attachment-related secure base scripts. ...
Thesis
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Every night during sleep we experience an immersive world of dreams, woven together by our sleeping brain unbound by external stimulation. Despite considerable effort the question of why we dream has eluded a conclusive answer. Understanding dreams also arguably makes progress toward answering the broader question of consciousness: why do we experience anything at all? I attempt to illuminate these questions by concentrating on the quintessentially social nature of dreams. First, in Study I a novel theoretical accountthe Social Simulation Theory of dreaming (SST)is proposed, together with the first outlines of a research program for its empirical study. SST suggests the world simulation form of dreams provides clues for its function by preferentially simulating certain kinds of scenariosnamely social interactions. Second, in Studies II and III specific hypotheses derived from the SST in Study I are empirically evaluated. These provide evidence for dreams to contain more social content than corresponding waking life and to remain so even when social interactions are removed from waking life (Sociality Bias). Furthermore, the Strengthening Hypothesis that suggests dreams serve to maintain and/or increase social bonding with close others gains partial support. The Practise and Preparation Hypothesis gained support as dreams simulated positive interactions in one fifth of dream interactions and overall simulate complex social behaviours. The Compensation Hypothesis suggests dreams simulations to increase when waking social contacts are abolished, but this was not supported in the data as dream sociality remained stable despite social seclusion. When excluded from others our dreams reconfigure to decrease simulations of interactions with strangers. However, dreams during normal day-to-day life do not preferentially simulate bond-strengthening interactions with close others. In opposition to previous findings, Study II found no differences in social dream contents between either stage of sleep or time of night. In Study III a short social seclusion showed not only differences in dream content, but also in sleep structure, with an increase in REM sleep. Third, methodological development was undertaken by, both, developing a content analysis method for extracting social episodes in narrative reports (Social Content Scale, SCS; Study II), and by assessing the validity of a novel home sleep monitor device, the Beddit Sleep Tracker (BST). While the SCS proved useful for categorizing the social features in both studies II and III, BST failed to provide accurate sleep data as measured against a polysomnogram. Overall, the development of SST and the initial empirical evidence for some of its hypotheses brings us closer to understanding the twin problems of dreaming and consciousness.
Article
Poetry evokes emotions. It does so, according to the theory we present, from three sorts of simulation. They each can prompt emotions, which are communications both within the brain and among people. First, models of a poem's semantic contents can evoke emotions as do models that occur in depictions of all kinds, from novels to perceptions. Second, mimetic simulations of prosodic cues, such as meter, rhythm, and rhyme, yield particular emotional states. Third, people's simulations of themselves enable them to know that they are engaged with a poem, and an aesthetic emotion can occur as a result. The three simulations predict certain sorts of emotion, e.g., prosodic cues can evoke basic emotions of happiness, sadness, anger, and anxiety. Empirical evidence corroborates the theory, which we relate to other accounts of poetic emotions.
Article
This article investigates the metaphorical representation of child sexual abuse (CSA) in contemporary children's and young adult gothic works, focusing on the popular Series of Unfortunate Events and Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children series. It argues that because of the upsetting nature of the issue and the numerous myths surrounding it, cultural production often uses the gothic figure of the monster who preys on children to address CSA indirectly, and identifies this strategy in the above series. It reveals a distinctly sexual charge to the monsters' victimisation of the children in both sets of narratives and explores their tendency to perpetuate CSA myths such as that of the perpetrator as a monstrous stranger. In conclusion, it considers how these narratives also challenge CSA myths and offer models of resilient child survivors, and it draws on cognitive cultural theory to theorise potential reader/viewer responses. Through its metaphorical imbrication of real-world brutality and dark fantasy, the Gothic is ultimately theorised as potentially affording more scope than realist treatments for touching on issues of transgression for wider and younger audiences, and sometimes in affirmative ways that move beyond merely recirculating myths and panic.
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Toni Morrison’s 2015 novel God Help the Child complicates both naïve celebrations and outright rejections of empathy as one of reading’s goals. Explicating the protagonist Bride’s journey as a primer in empathy, I argue that in centring a Black protagonist as Everyreader, Morrison undermines the implicit whiteness of both “the reader” and the subject of scientific study and moral theory. Yet the role of racial prejudice in Bride’s childhood trauma refuses to let readers forget that the source of her trouble is not her own moral failing but, rather, what Christina Sharpe calls “the weather” of white supremacy. By the novel’s end, empathy emerges as a powerful source of interpersonal and societal care across racial, class, and generational difference, but one that can be undermined by white supremacy at its most basic, pre-conscious functioning, rendering the role of literature to develop readers’ capacity to empathize across difference all the more important. Ultimately, Morrison’s allegory of readerly empathy challenges not just popular discussions of literature’s good but also the entire interdisciplinary conversation among literary scholars, cognitive psychologists, and neuroscientists by insisting that we attend to the specific but so far under-acknowledged role of racism in the development, practice, and study of empathy.
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Introduction. Empathic culture is one of the most important communicative phenomena potentially inherent in a person. An approach based on the use of works of Russian classical literature turns out to be very productive for solving the problem of developing the empathic culture of the younger generation. This direction of research is especially relevant for students of secondary vocational educational institutions, which are a harmonizing factor in relationships both within the youth environment and in modern society. The aim of the work is to determine the degree of influence of Russian classical literature on the development of empathic culture of students of secondary vocational educational institutions. Methods. The study involved 60 students of the Moscow State Institute of Physical Culture, Sports and Tourism. Yu.A. Senkevich, studying at the department of secondary vocational education. As a toolkit for diagnosing the levels of development of empathic culture, we used the methodology for diagnosing the level of development of the ability to interpret non-verbal behavior in interpersonal communication; the questionnaire of the severity of emotional empathy by A. Mehrabyan and N. Epstein and the method of express diagnostics of empathy by I. M. Yusupov. Research results. In order to increase the level of development of empathic culture, works of Russian classical literature were used, the study of which was accompanied by specially composed questions and tasks for each of the selected works. By observing and analyzing the answers, the dynamics of changes in each of the components of the empathic culture of students was recorded. As a result, the number of students in the experimental group with very high and high levels of empathic culture increased by 26.6% and 23.4% (χ2 = 13,084; p < 0,05), respectively, while the level of empathic culture of students in the control group increased by 3.4% (χ2 = 1,034; p > 0,05).
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Im vorliegenden sechsten Band der Heidelberger Jahrbücher Online (HDJBO), den die „Gesellschaft der Freunde Universität Heidelberg e.V.“ unter Federführung der drei Editoren Rainer M. Holm-Hadulla, Joachim Funke und Michael Wink herausgibt, haben sich die Autorinnen und Autoren des Bandes diesmal mit dem Konzept der Intelligenz als fächerübergreifender Thematik auseinandergesetzt. Unter dem Titel „Intelligenz – Theoretische Grundlagen und praktische An- wendungen“ geht es um eine Eigenschaft, die wir bei Lebewesen aller Art als Anpassungsleistung an gegebene Umwelten finden. Intelligenz hat den Menschen in Jahrtausende langer Tradition zu einer erfolgreichen Spezies gemacht. Aber wird dies so weitergehen? Künstliche Intelligenz (KI) scheint inzwischen menschli- cher Intelligenz an manchen Stellen sogar überlegen - droht dem Menschen Gefahr von Seiten der KI? Das Thema ruft geradezu nach multi- und interdisziplinärer Betrachtung. Diese multi- und interdisziplinäre Betrachtung findet im vorliegenden Band aus der bunten Sicht unserer Volluniversität statt. Autorinnen und Autoren aus Geistes-, Kultur-, Naturwissenschaften und der Medizin erörtern ihr Verständnis von Intelligenz aus unterschiedlichen Perspektiven und aufgrund unterschiedlicher Forschngsmethoden. Dazu kommen externe Beiträge, die die gesellschaftliche Relevanz des Phänomens unterstreichen. Die durchaus disziplinär angelegten Beiträge thematisieren dabei ganz unterschiedliche Aspekte des Rahmenthemas und erzielen dadurch am Ende eine interessante Perspektivenvielfalt. Rainer M. Holm-Hadulla hat es zudem übernommen, in seinem einleitenden Kapitel eine Zusammenschau und Einordnung der ganz unterschiedlichen Beiträge vorzunehmen. Er hat bereits im Jahr 2000 ein spannendes Jahrbuch zum Thema „Kreativität“ kuratiert (Holm-Hadulla, 2000). Noch eine Vorbemerkung der Herausgeber, die fast selbstverständlich erscheint. Anders als bei Fachzeitschriften bietet das Jahrbuch ja gerade die Möglichkeit, eher persönlich gehaltene Bewertungen vorzutragen. Die Autoren und Autorinnen sind für ihre Beiträge selbst verantwortlich. Wir als Herausgeber haben eine Auswahl getroffen, gleichzeitig jedoch Spielraum für Ideen gelassen, die mit unseren Vorstellungen nicht notwendiger Weise deckungsgleich sind. Wie immer erfolgt an dieser Stelle eine stichwortartige Vorstellung der Beiträ- ge dieses Bands. Am Anfang dieser Liste steht der Beitrag, der eine ausführli- che Einordnung aller folgenden Kapitel unternimmt. Rainer M. Holm-Hadulla (Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie) erhellt in seinem einleitenden Kapitel „Intel- ligenz: Theoretische Grundlagen und praktische Anwendungen – Eine multi- und interdisziplinäre Zusammenfassung“ die hinter den Einzelbeiträgen liegende Tiefenstruktur und zieht Verbindungslinien. - Hier die Liste aller Beiträge in alpha- betischer Folge (im Band selbst sind die einzelnen Beiträge den sieben Sektionen des Einleitungskapitels folgend angeordnet): Ines Al-Ameery-Brosche und Franz Resch (Kinder- und Jugendpsychiatrie) weisen in ihrem Beitrag „Emotionale Robotik - Fluch oder Segen in der psych- iatrischen Versorgung“ auf die Gefahren wie auch auf die Vorteile von „sozialen Robotern“ und medizinischen IT-Anwendungen hin, die als Werkzeuge angesehen werden können, aber nicht als Ersatz für menschliche Zuwendung. Theresia Bauer (Ministerin für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kunst des Landes Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart) liefert mit dem Kapitel „Politische Intelligenz? Ein Blick aus der Praxis zwischen Politik und Wissenschaft“ einen Praxisbericht aus der Welt politischen Handelns. Weisheit und Vertrauen in die Wissenschaft spielen dabei eine wichtige Rolle. Michael Byczkowski (SAP) und Magdalena Görtz (Urologie) schreiben über „Die Industrialisierung der Intelligenz“ und zeigen dabei anhand von medizini- schen Beispielen, wie das Zusammenspiel von Beobachtung, Erfahrung, Erkennt- nis und Fertigkeiten zu intelligenten Einsichten führen. Andreas Draguhn (Physiologie) beschreibt die „Neurobiologie der Intelligenz“ und behandelt dabei ein wesentliches biologisches Korrelat der Intelligenz: das Gehirn. Wichtige Rahmenbedingungen für die genetisch angelegte „biologische“ Intelligenz zeigen, dass gute physische Bedingungen, vielfältige Reize und förder- liche soziale Interaktionen in den ersten Lebensjahren günstig für deren Entwick- lung sind. Claudia Erbar und Peter Leins (Biologie) beziehen in ihrem Beitrag „Das intel- ligente Spiel mit Zufällen und Auslese“ eine evolutionstheoretische Perspektive und zeigen anhand zahlreicher Beispiele intelligente Konstruktionen der Evolution, wie sie heutzutage von der Bionik genutzt werden. Klaus Fiedler, Florian Ermark und Karolin Salmen (Sozialpsychologie) be- schreiben mit dem Begriff der „Metakognition“ mögliche Fehler und Täuschungen beim rationalen Urteilen und Entscheiden im Anwendungsfeld von Recht, Medizin und Demokratie. Qualitätskontrolle des eigenen Denkens ist angesagt. Dietrich Firnhaber (Covestro AG, Leverkusen) nimmt mit seinem Beitrag „In- telligenter Umgang von Unternehmen mit Komplexität“ strategisches Planen zum Umgang mit unsicheren Sachverhalten unter die Lupe. Er zeigt, dass unsicheres Wissen über bekannte Unsicherheiten produktiv genutzt werden kann. Thomas Fuchs (Philosophie und Psychiatrie) kommt in seinem Beitrag „Mensch- liche und künstliche Intelligenz – ein kritischer Vergleich“ zu dem Schluss, dass menschliche Intelligenz etwas spezifisch Menschliches ist, das nicht mit künstli- cher Intelligenz, d.h. mit Algorithmen getriebener maschineller Datenverarbeitung auf die gleiche Ebene gestellt werden kann. Joachim Funke (Allgemeine Psychologie) beschreibt in seinem Beitrag „In- telligenz: Die psychologische Sicht“ verschiedene Konzeptionen des Konstrukts und weist zugleich auf deren „dunkle Seite“, also das zerstörerische Potential intelligenten Handelns hin. Sebastian Harnisch (Politikwissenschaft) wirft einen Blick auf das Konzept der „Politischen Intelligenz und Weisheit“. Dabei werden historische Wurzeln dieser Konzepte ebenso dargestellt wie aktuelle Entwicklungen im 20./21. Jahrhundert. Sabine Herpertz (Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie) unterscheidet in ihrem Ka- pitel „Interpersonelle Intelligenz“ Mentalisierung, Empathie und Fürsorge. Sie beschreibt deren neurobiologische Korrelate und zieht praktische Konsequenzen Vincent Heuveline (Mathematik) und Viola Stiefel (Rechenzentrum) beschreiben in ihrem Beitrag „Künstliche Intelligenz und Algorithmen – Wahrer Fortschritt oder doch nur digitale Alchemie?“ die Grundlagen von KI und die Grenzen ihrer Anwendungsmöglichkeiten. Sie plädieren für Verbesserung der KI-Kompetenzen z. B. im schulischen Bereich und gleichzeitig für die vernünftige Handhabung von KI unter ethischen und ökölogischen Gesichtspunkten. Thomas Holstein (Molekulare Biologie) geht davon aus, dass das gesamte zel- luläre und molekulare Repertoire unseres Nervensystems sich bereits auf früheren Evolutionsstufen vor über 500 Millionen Jahren ausgebildet hat. Die Fähigkeit neu- ronaler Systeme zu kognitiven Entscheidungsprozessen ermöglicht assoziatives Lernen und intelligente Problemlösungen schon bei aus unserer Sicht einfachen Organismen wie der Meeresschnecke. Dabei spielen spezifische Gene eine zentrale Rolle. Vergleichende genomische Untersuchungen tragen zum Verständnis der Gehirnevolution entscheidend bei. Magnus von Knebel Doeberitz (Tumorbiologie) zeigt neue Möglichkeiten der Künstlichen Intelligenz im Bereich der Medizin auf. Viele aktuelle Fortschritte der Medizin seien ohne KI nicht möglich. Dem Internet of Things stellt er ein Internet of Medicine an die Seite. Katajun Lindenberg und Ulrike Basten (Kinder- und Jugendlichenpsychothera- pie) beschreiben aus einer klinischen Perspektive die „Entwicklung der Intelligenz im Zusammenhang mit der Nutzung digitaler Medien“. Angesichts des steigenden Gebrauchs digitaler Medien bei Kindern und Jugendlichen werden hier in Form eines Überblicksartikels Vor- und Nachteile in Bezug auf die geistige Entwicklung diskutiert Vera Nünning (Anglistik) greift in ihrem Beitrag „Intelligenz in und mit Lite- ratur“ unser Rahmenthema auf, indem sie dessen Darstellung in zwei aktuellen Romanen von Ian McEwan bzw. Kazuo Ishiguro analysiert und damit die mäch- tige Erfahrungswelt literarischer Werke für das Selbst- und Welt-Verständnis nachvollziehbar macht. Manfred Oeming (Theologie) macht in seinem Beitrag „Intelligentia Dei“ zum einen die Wissenschaftsfreundlichkeit der Bibel deutlich, zum anderen warnt er vor allzu großer Technikgläubigkeit, die mit manchen „Heilsverheissungen“ der Apolegeten der künstlichen Intelligenz verbunden ist. Gudrun Rappold (Genetik) beschreibt was passiert, „Wenn die Intelligenz beeinträchtigt ist“. Am Beispiel der Entwicklungsstörung „Autismus“ verdeutlicht sie genetische Mechanismen, die die Entwicklung und Funktion der neuronalen Netzwerke und Verschaltungen negativ beeinflussen, bei frühzeitiger Erkennung aber auch Behandlungsmöglichkeiten eröffnen. Robert Sternberg (Kognitive Psychologie) stellt unter dem Titel “Meta-Intelli- gence: Understanding Control, and Coordination of Higher Cognitive Processes” die Frage, ob sich nicht verschiedene höhere Prozesse der Kognition unter dem Dachbegriff der Meta-Intelligenz zusammenfassen lassen. Thomas Stiehl und Anna Marciniak-Czochra (Mathematik) beschäftigen sich mit dem Thema „Intelligente Algorithmen und Gleichungen? – Eine Annäherung an die Intelligenz mathematischer Konzepte“ und zeigen Analogien zwischen menschlicher Intelligenz und der Intelligenz lernender Algorithmen auf. Die mit Computersimulationen möglichen Parameterschätzungen und daraus resultieren- den Vorhersagen machen komplexe Sachverhalte handhabbar. Christof Weiand (Romanistik) schreibt über „Kulturelle Intelligenz in der Li- teratur: Giovanni Boccaccios ‚Falkennovelle‘“ und illustriert am Beispiel des „Decameron“, was es braucht, um einen literarischen Text angemessen zu verste- hen. Er zeigt, wie Gender-Perspektiven ins Spiel gebracht und Vorurteile literarisch dekonstruiert werden können. Christel Weiß (Medizinische Statistik) stellt in ihrem historisch ausgerichteten Kapitel „Statistik und Intelligenz – eine wechselvolle Beziehung“ die Entwicklung statistischer Methoden in den Kontext „Messung von Intelligenz“, behandelt aber auch die Intelligenz von Daten, Methoden, Anwendern und Konsumenten von Statistik. Michael Wink (Biologie) befasst sich mit „Intelligenz bei Tieren“ und zeigt viele Beispiele für intelligentes Verhalten wie z. B. Hämmern, Angeln und Sto- chern. Tiere sind zu erstaunlichen kognitiven Leistungen in der Lage, wie z. B. Problemlösen, Gedächtnis und Orientierung sowie sozialem Verhalten.
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What is it about a good story that causes it to have life-changing effects on one person and not another? I wonder if future technologies will enable us to develop the type of truly deep and fine-grained understanding of stories as social, cognitive, and emotional technologies that might allow us to answer this question with a high-level of precision.
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Our ability to infer and understand others’ thoughts and feelings, known as theory of mind (ToM), has important consequences across the life span, supporting empathy, pro-social behavior, and coordination in groups. Socialization practices and interpersonal interactions help develop this capacity, and so does engaging with fiction. Research suggests that lifetime exposure to fiction predicts performance on ToM tests, but little evidence speaks to the type of fiction most responsible for this effect. We draw from literary theory and empirical work to propose that literary fiction is more likely than genre fiction to foster ToM, describe the development of a new method for assessing exposure to literary and popular genre fiction, and report findings from 3 samples testing the specificity of the relation between exposure to literary fiction and ToM. Results indicate that exposure to literary but not genre fiction positively predicts performance on a test of ToM, even when accounting for demographic variables including age, gender, educational attainment, undergraduate major (in 2 samples), and self-reported empathy (in 1 sample). These findings offer further evidence that habitual engagement with others’ minds, even fictional ones, may improve the psychological processes supporting intersubjectivity. We discuss their implications for understanding the impacts of fiction, and for models of culture more generally.
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A novel is based on suggestions from which readers construct characters and events in an imagined story world. In Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s suggestions derive from 3 sets of cues: (a) characters’ utterances; (b) thoughts of characters, of the narrator, and even of readers; and (c) narrated depictions of settings, characters, actions and events. Tracing people’s simulations of stories offers a route into the psychology of imagination, in which readers make inferences about what happens in a story. Austen invites intimacy with readers by metonymy, playfulness, and irony. Her novel does not seek to persuade; it communicates indirectly and with ambiguity. Among psychological effects of literary art such as Pride and Prejudice, readers can become better able to empathize and understand other people, and better able to understand and change themselves. For psychology, imaginative engagement in the simulations of fiction may be as important as empirical findings of causes of behavior.
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A long tradition of research including classical rhetoric, aesthetics and poetics theory, formalism and structuralism, as well as current perspectives in (neuro)cognitive poetics has investigated structural and functional aspects of literature reception. Despite a wealth of literature published in specialised journals like Poetics, however, still little is known about how the brain processes and creates literary and poetic texts. Still, such stimulus material might be suited better than other genres for demonstrating the complexities with which our brain constructs the world in and around us, because it unifies thought and language, music and imagery in a clear, manageable way, most often with play, pleasure, and emotion (Schrott & Jacobs, 2011). In this paper, I discuss methods and models for investigating the neuronal and cognitive-affective bases of literary reading together with pertinent results from studies on poetics, text processing, emotion, or neuroaesthetics, and outline current challenges and future perspectives.
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This study investigated the effects of foregrounding on affective responses (i.e., emotions) during reading, and on empathy and reflection after reading, using both quantitative and qualitative measures. In addition, the influence of personal factors (trait empathy, personal experience, exposure to literature) on empathy and reflection was explored. Participants (N = 142) were randomly assigned to read 1 of 3 versions of an excerpt from a literary novel about the loss of a child. Versions differed in the level of foregrounded textual features: the "original" version possessed a high level of semantic, phonetic, and grammatical foregrounding; semantic foregrounding was removed in the manipulated version "without imagery"; and semantic, phonetic and grammatical foregrounding were removed in the manipulated version "without foregrounding." Results showed that readers who had read the "original" version scored higher on empathy after reading than those who had read the version "without foregrounding." A quantitative analysis of qualitative data showed that participants reading the original version experienced significantly more ambivalent emotions than those in the version without foregrounding. Reflection did not seem to be influenced by foregrounding. Results suggest that personal factors may be more important in evoking reflection. (PsycINFO Database Record
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Previous research has shown that reading award-winning literary fiction leads to increases in performance on tests of theory of mind (Kidd & Castano, 2013). Here, we extend this research to another medium, exploring the effect of viewing award-winning TV dramas on subsequent performance on a test of theory of mind ability, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (Baron-Cohen, Wheelwright, Hill, Raste, & Plumb, 2001). In 2 separate studies, participants were randomly assigned to watch either an award-winning TV drama (Mad Men or West Wing for Study 1; The Good Wife or Lost for Study 2) or a TV documentary (Shark Week or How the Universe Works for Study 1; NOVA Colosseum or Through the Wormhole for Study 2). In both studies, participants who viewed a TV drama performed significantly higher on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test than did those who viewed a documentary. These results suggest that film narratives, as well as written narratives, may facilitate the understanding of others’ minds.
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This study investigated the effects of text genre (expository, life narrative, literary narrative) on reflection (direct thoughts on various subjects and thinking back after one week), using both quantitative and qualitative measures. In addition, the interactive effect of personal factors (personal experience, trait empathy, exposure to literature) and affective responses during reading (narrative feelings, aesthetic feelings, empathic distress) on direct thoughts when reading stories was explored using AMOS. Respondents (N = 210) read two texts within the same genre, one about grief and one about depression, with one week between texts. Each week, they completed a questionnaire. In the short run, the expository texts evoked most "personal" thoughts, but after a week, respondents had thought back to the narrative texts more frequently than to the expository. A small percentage of participants showed a tendency to deeper reflection, predominantly in the literary condition. Direct thoughts were predicted by personal experience with the subject matter, empathic distress, sympathy/empathy with the character, and perceived foregrounding. These results suggest a confirmation of earlier evidence: for narrative texts, emotional reading experiences may be more likely to lead to reflection.
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Although reading is known to be an important contributor to language abilities, it is not yet well established whether different text genres are uniquely associated with verbal abilities. We examined how exposure to narrative fiction and expository nonfiction predict language ability among university students. Exposure was measured both with self-report and with recognition tests of print exposure. Verbal ability was measured in the form of synonym knowledge, analogies, sentence completion, and reading comprehension in 4 different studies. Across all studies, narrative fiction was a better predictor of verbal abilities relative to expository nonfiction. When examining unique associations, controlling for demographic variables and the other genre, fiction remained a robust predictor, whereas nonfiction became a null or weak negative predictor. In light of this evidence, it appears that what we read plays an important role in how reading contributes to language development.
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There is a paucity of neuroaesthetic studies on prose fiction. This is in contrast to the very many impressive studies that have been conducted in recent times on the neuroaesthetics of sister arts such as painting, music and dance. Why might this be the case, what are its causes and, of greatest importance, how can it best be resolved? In this article, the pitfalls, parameters and prospects of a neuroaesthetics of prose fiction will be explored. The article itself is part critical review, part methodological proposal and part opinion paper. Its aim is simple: to stimulate, excite and energize thinking in the discipline as to how prose fiction might be fully integrated in the canon of neuroaesthetics and to point to opportunities where neuroimaging studies on literary discourse processing might be conducted in collaborative work bringing humanists and scientists together.
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A long tradition of research including classical rhetoric, aesthetics and poetics theory, formalism and structuralism, as well as current perspectives in (neuro)cognitive poetics has investigated structural and functional aspects of literature reception. Despite a wealth of literature published in specialised journals like Poetics, however, still little is known about how the brain processes and creates literary and poetic texts. Still, such stimulus material might be suited better than other genres for demonstrating the complexities with which our brain constructs the world in and around us, because it unifies thought and language, music and imagery in a clear, manageable way, most often with play, pleasure, and emotion (Schrott & Jacobs, 2011). In this paper, I discuss methods and models for investigating the neuronal and cognitive-affective bases of literary reading together with pertinent results from studies on poetics, text processing, emotion, or neuroaesthetics, and outline current challenges and future perspectives.
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Various scholars have made claims about literature’s potential to evoke empathy and self-reflection, which would eventually lead to more pro-social behav­ior. But is it indeed the case that a seemingly idle pass-time activity like literary reading can do all that? And if so, how can we explain such an influence? Would the effects be particular to unique literary text qualities or to other aspects that literary texts share with other genres (e. g., narrativity)? Empirical research is necessary to answer these questions. This article presents an overview of empirical studies investigating the relationship between reading and empathy, and reading and self-reflection. We reveal those questions in the research that are not addressed as of yet, and synthesize the available approaches to literary effects. Based on theory as well as empirical work, a multi-factor model of literary reading is constructed. With regard to reading and empathy, the metaphor of the moral laboratory (cf. Hakemulder 2000) comes close to a concise summary of the research and theory. Being absorbed in a narrative can stimulate empathic imagination. Readers go along with the author/narrator in a (fictional) thought-experiment, imagining how it would be to be in the shoes of a particular character, with certain motives, under certain circumstances, meeting with certain events. That would explain why narrativity can result in a broadening of readers’ consciousness, in particular so that it encompasses fellow human beings. Fictionality might stimulate readers to consider the narrative they read as a thought experiment, creating distance between them and the events, allowing them to experiment more freely with taking the position of a character different from themselves, also in moral respects. Literary features, like gaps and ambiguous characterization, may stimulate readers to make more mental inferences, thus training their theory of mind. However, apart from literature possibly being able to train basic cognitive ability, we have little indication for the importance of Regarding self-reflection, while there is no convincing evidence that literary texts are generally more thought-provoking than non-literary texts (either narrative or expository), there is tentative indication for a relation between reading literary texts and self-reflection. However, as was the case for the studies on empathy, there is a lack of systematic comparisons between literary narratives and non-literary narratives. There are some suggestions regarding the processes that can lead to self-reflection. Empirical and theoretical work indicates that the combination of experiencing narrative and aesthetic emotions tends to trigger self-reflection. Personal and reading experience may influence narrative and aesthetic emotions. By proposing a multi-factor model of literary reading, we hope to give an impulse to current reader response research, which too often conflates narrativity, fictionality and literariness. The multi-factor model of literary reading contains (our simplified versions of) two theoretical positions within the field of reader response studies on underlying processes that lead to empathy and reflection: the idea of reading literature as a form of role-taking proposed by Oatley (e. g., 1994; 1999) and the idea of defamiliarization through deviating textual and narrative features proposed by Miall and Kuiken (1994; 1999). We argue that these positions are in fact complementary. While the role-taking concept seems most adequate to explain empathic responses, the defamiliarization concept seems most adequate in explaining reflective responses. The discussion of these two theoretical explanations leads to the construction of a theoret­ical framework (and model) that offers useful suggestions which texts could be considered to have which effects on empathy and reflection. In our multi-factor model of literary reading, an important addition to the previously mentioned theories is the concept »stillness«. We borrow this term from the Canadian author Yann Martel (2009), who suggests reading certain literary texts will help to stimulate self-contemplation (and appreciation for art), moments that are especially valuable in times that life seems to be racing by, and we are enveloped by work and a multitude of other activities. Other literary authors have proposed similar ideas. Stillness is related to, or overlaps with the more commonly used term »aesthetic distance«, an attitude of detachment, allowing for contemplation to take place (cf. Cupchik 2001). Stillness, we propose, allows a space in which slow thinking (Kahneman 2011) can take place. Stillness is not reflection itself, but a precondition for reflection. In our model, stillness is an empty space or time that is created as a result of reading processes: the slowing down of readers’ perceptions of the fictional world, caused by defamiliarization. Our multi-factor model suggests that while role-taking can take place for all types of narratives, literary and fictional narratives may evoke the type of aesthetic distance (stillness) that leads to a suspension of judgment, adding to a stronger experience of role-taking and narrative empathy.
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