Evaluation during the understanding of narratives

Ozyurek, A., & Trabasso, T. (1997). Evaluation during the understanding of narratives. Discourse Processes, 23(3), 305-337. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=hlh&AN=12673020&site=ehost-live.
Evaluation plays a role in the telling and understanding of narratives, in communicative interaction, emotional understanding, and in psychological well-being. This article reports a study of evaluation by describing how readers monitor the concerns of characters over the course of a narrative. The main hypothesis is that readers tract the well-being via the expression of a character's internal states. Reader evaluations were revealed in think aloud protocols obtained during reading of narrative texts, one sentence at a time. Five kinds of evaluative inferences were found: appraisals (good versus bad), preferences (like versus don't like), emotions (happy versus frustrated), goals (want versus don't want), or purposes (to attain or maintain X versus to prevent or avoid X). Readers evaluated all sentences. The mean rate of evaluation per sentence was 0.55. Positive and negative evaluations over the course of the story indicated that things initially went badly for characters, improved with the formulation and execution of goal plans, declined with goal failure, and improved as characters formulated new goals and succeeded. The kind of evaluation made depended upon the episodic category of the event and the event's temporal location in the story. Evaluations also served to explain or predict events. In making evaluations, readers stayed within the frame of the story and perspectives of the character or narrator. They also moved out of the narrative frame and addressed evaluations towards the experimenter in a communicative context.
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