We examined the differences between estimating the emotions of protagonists and evaluating those of readers in narrative comprehension. Half of the participants read stories and rated the emotional states of the protagonists, while the other half of the participants rated their own emotional states while reading the stories. The results showed that reading comprehension was facilitated when highly extraverted participants read stories about, and rated the emotional experiences of, extraverted protagonists, with personalities similar to their own. However, the same facilitative effect was not observed for less extraverted participants, nor was it observed for either type of participants under the condition in which participants rated their own emotional experiences. Thus, at least for highly extraverted participants, readers both facilitated the construction of a situation model and correctly estimated the emotional states of protagonists who were similar to themselves, perhaps due to empathy.
Source: “Differences between estimating protagonists’ emotions and evaluating readers’ emotions in narrative comprehension” from Cognition & Emotion, Volume 23, Issue 1 January 2009 , pages 135 – 151
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