Getting under your skin
When we read a book, we often get immersed into the story. Colorful adventures unfold from the pages in our minds. At times, this can feel as if we relive the adventures through the eyes of a character and sometimes we accompany the characters as silent witnesses of their stories. But how does black ink on white paper transform to lively images in the mind? And how much does the way a story is told, e.g. from the perspective of a character or an all-knowing narrator, influence how we experience it?
A popular theory in cognitive science called simulation theory proposes that our brains can respond to reading or hearing these stories as if we are experiencing the actions described ourselves. In her thesis, Hartung investigates how narrative perspective influences the way we simulate during reading. Her results show that getting immersed into stories and simulating experiences during reading is a very unique cognitive process. It might be that readers have a set of reading modes and may select a mode depending on their personal preference, mood, or reading goal. She shows that how a story is told indeed can influence how we relate to fictional characters and how we get immersed into stories but our personal preferences seem to be more important during this process.
- Franziska Hartung will defend her thesis on Thursday, April 13th at 10.30am at the Aula of the Radboud University.
- The thesis appears in the MPI Series in Psycholinguistics (no 121).