The goal of this research was to assess the ability of readers to determine the emotion of a passage of text, be it fictional or non-fictional. The research includes examining how genre (fiction and non-fiction) and emotion (positive emotion, such as happiness, and negative emotion, such as anger) interact to form a reading experience. Reading is an activity that many, if not most, humans undertake in either a professional or leisure capacity. Researchers are thus interested in the effect reading has on the individual, particularly with regards to empathy. Some researchers believe reading fosters empathy; others think empathy might already be present in those who enjoy reading. A greater understanding of this dispute could be provided by general recognition theory (GRT). GRT allows researchers to investigate how stimulus dimensions interact in an observer's mind: on a perceptual or decisional level. In the context of reading, this allows researchers to look at how emotion is tied in with (or inseparable from) genre, or if the ability to determine the emotion of a passage is independent from the genre of the passage. In the reported studies, participants read passages and responded to questions on the passages and their content. Empathy scores significantly predicted discriminability of passage categories, as did reported hours spent reading per week. Non-fiction passages were easier to identify than fiction, and positive emotion classification was affiliated with non-fiction classification.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Psychology; Human Factors Cognitive Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Williams, Sarah, "The Perceptual and Decisional Basis of Emotion Identification in Creative Writing" (2019). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 6817.