Here’s A Clever Demonstration Of How We Simulate The Mental Experiences Of Story Characters

The Booker Prize was announced earlier this week, going
controversially to joint winners, Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood. If the announcement has spurred you to pick up a copy of the prize-winning novels, why not also delve into our posts on the psychology of reading such as this 2017 piece:

Avid readers of novels know that they often take the perspective of the characters they read about. But just how far does this mental role-playing go? A paper in the Journal of Memory and Language provides a clever demonstration of how readily we simulate the thoughts of fictional characters. Borrowing a method from research into the psychology of deliberate forgetting, the researchers show that when a story character needs to focus on remembering one series of words rather than another, the reader simulates this same memory process in their own minds. The character’s mental experience becomes the reader’s mental experience. Continue reading →

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