Faculté des lettres

Emotion in Text Comprehension: Do Readers Infer Specific emotions

Gygax, Pascal ; Oakhill, Jane ; Garnham, Alan

This paper argues that emotional inferences about characters in a text are not as specific as previously assumed (Gernsbacher et al., 1992; Gernsbacher and Robertson, 1992; Gernsbacher et al., 1998; DeVega et al., 1996; DeVega et al., 1997). The emotional information inferred by readers does not differentiate between emotions that are similar, though not identical. In both Experiments 1 and 2,... Plus

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    Summary
    This paper argues that emotional inferences about characters in a text are not as specific as previously assumed (Gernsbacher et al., 1992; Gernsbacher and Robertson, 1992; Gernsbacher et al., 1998; DeVega et al., 1996; DeVega et al., 1997). The emotional information inferred by readers does not differentiate between emotions that are similar, though not identical. In both Experiments 1 and 2, participants read the stories used by Gernsbacher et al. (1992). Results from Experiment 1 (off-line) show that participants judged several emotions consistent with the same story. In Experiment 2 (on-line), participants took longer to read target sentences containing emotions mismatching the stories, but there was no difference between target sentences containing different matching emotions as determined by Experiment 1. Results from Experiments 1 and 2 suggest that the emotional information readers infer from the stories is too broad to determine a specific emotion. The results are consistent with the idea that a general emotional response is evoked, which is compatible with one or more specific emotions.