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ERIC Number: EJ819523
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Jan
Pages: 10
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISSN: ISSN-0749-596X
Waiting for Brandon: How Readers Respond to Small Mysteries
Gerrig, Richard J.; Love, Jessica; McKoon, Gail
Journal of Memory and Language, v60 n1 p144-153 Jan 2009
When readers experience narratives they often encounter small mysteries--questions that a text raises that are not immediately settled. In our experiments, participants read stories that introduced characters by proper names (e.g., "It's just that Brandon hasn't called in so long"). "Resolved" versions of the stories specified the functions those characters' assumed in their narrative worlds with respect to the other characters (e.g., Brandon was identified as the speaker's grandson); "unresolved" versions of the stories did not immediately provide that information. We predicted that characters whose functions were still unresolved would remain relatively accessible in the discourse representations. We tested that prediction in Experiments 1 and 2 by asking participants to indicate whether a name (e.g., Brandon) had appeared in the story. Participants responded most swiftly when the characters remained unresolved. In the latter experiments, we demonstrated that the presence of an unresolved character disrupted processing of information that followed that character's introduction (Experiment 3) but not information that preceded that introduction (Experiment 4). These results support the general importance of providing a theoretical account of readers' responses to narrative mysteries. (Contains 2 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A