Character and reader emotions in literary texts

Katinka Dijkstra*, Rolf A. Zwaan, Arthur C. Graesser, Joseph P. Magliano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


This paper addresses two types of emotions: character emotions and reader emotions, in particular suspense. We assumed that character emotions and suspense are enhanced or suppressed by other story aspects, such as pragmatic intent, imagery, literary devices, and indeterminacy. We also assumed that character emotions and suspense have an effect on the speed with which a story segment is read. We performed two multiple regression analyses to examine to what extent variability in character emotion and suspense could be predicted by the strength of other story aspects. The paper also summarizes the results of a study by Zwaan et al. (1993), which show that character and reader emotion affect the on-line comprehension of literary stories.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-157
Number of pages19
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1995


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