University of Sussex
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Overcome with emotions: understanding the effects of emotional information in text on reading comprehension and processing

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posted on 2023-06-09, 16:07 authored by Scarlett Child
This thesis explores the effects of emotional information about characters in text on processing. In five chapters presenting nine experiments in total, readers were presented with emotional characters that occurred either in small texts or in sentences. In the second chapter, it was investigated whether mental representations of entities in sentences are more salient and easier to retrieve due to emotional information. In the third chapter, the effects of emotional information about multiple different characters on processing were explored. The forth chapter presents experiments on perspective taking and how perspective affects the way emotional information is processed. Building up on that, in chapter 5, it was investigated how the mood of the reader influences perspective taking when reading about emotional information. All experiments in the first four chapters used a self-paced reading method to explore effects on reading speed (reading times). Chapter 6, however, presents an eye-tracking experiment set out to explore the effects of perspective on reading behaviour in more detail and to determine where perspective differences arise in the text. Hence, pronoun regions (including perspective cues) across the text were analysed. The findings presented in this thesis gave evidence that readers focus more on emotional characters (that emotional characters are more salient), and that readers also engage more with (emotional) texts when they experience the situation from a personal perspective. All experiments gave evidence that readers track and use emotional information to form a coherent representation of the text.


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  • doctoral

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  • eng


University of Sussex

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