The role of dimensions of narrative engagement in narrative persuasion

Communications 34 (4):385-405 (2009)
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Abstract

Several models of narrative persuasion posit that a reader's phenomenological experience of a narrative plays a mediating role in the persuasive effects of the narrative. Because the narrative reading experience is multi-dimensional, this experiment investigates which dimensions of this experience – referred to here as narrative engagement – mediate between reading a story and the persuasive effects of the story. Narrative engagement was manipulated by giving participants a selection task to carry out while reading or by adding language errors to the story. Results showed that the task decreased the engagement dimension Being in Narrative World and the language errors decreased the dimension Attentional Focus. No corresponding effects on attitudes were found. However, comparisons with a control group showed that reading the story rendered attitudes more consistent with the story. Regression analysis indicated that this effect may be explained by readers' emotions regarding the characters.

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