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Title: What is Hecuba to Him?: The Role of Context and Perceived Reality in Emotional Reactions to Narrative
Authors: Cuneo, Sarah
Advisors: Hasson, Uri
Contributors: Taylor, Jordan
Department: Psychology
Class Year: 2015
Abstract: Previous research on the topic of emotional reactions to narratives has mainly focused on the differences between emotional reactions to fictional and nonfictional narratives. Very little research has been done to address other factors that may contribute to the phenomenon of narrative empathy. The following study compared the effects of both perceived reality of stimulus and amount of narrative context on subjects’ emotional responsiveness to a narrative. Emotional response was operationalized as pupil diameter, a measurement that ultimately proved to be incredibly noisy. As a result, no statistically significant effects were found for either context or perceived reality on emotional response to narrative. However, the data contained consistent trends that, while not statistically significant, point to both fiction and strong context as predictors of greater emotional responsiveness. If future studies with less noisy means of measurement recreate these trends, they could provide support for the theory-theory (TT), as opposed to the simulation theory (ST), view of human empathy. If, however, additional testing confirms these trends to be insignificant, the social simulation view of narrative – and the ST model of human empathy in general – becomes very compelling.
Extent: 80 pages
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en_US
Appears in Collections:Psychology, 1930-2017

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