ERIC Number: ED341062
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1990-Apr
Thinking about Characters and Thinking about People: Social Cognition, Literary Response, and Character Attribution Processes among Young Adult Readers.
A study compared the literary response and character attribution processes of 40 undergraduate students on the basis of differences in their interpersonal construct repertoire, or "interpersonal cognitive complexity." No studies to date have explored the ways in which cognitive complexity influences readers' overall responses to literature or the "types" of attributions that readers of high and low complexity are likely to make about literary characters. Informants were asked to complete a measure of cognitive complexity, to read a short story, and to respond in writing to two questions at four separate junctures in the story: "What is your overall response?" and "Why do you suppose the main character behaved as he did?" Analyses of written protocols indicated that cognitive complexity is more associated with the ways in which readers make inferences in search of meaning than with their literal/descriptive responses, personal associations, or engagement. Attributions which frame characters' personality traits in the context of temporal psychological states and external influences appear to characterize this search for meaning. The findings and analytic framework generated by the study are useful for researchers and practitioners interested in identifying and understanding readers' literary response and character attribution processes from a social-cognitive perspective. (Three tables of data are included; 48 references are attached.) (Author)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A