Effects of "literariness" on emotions and on empathy and reflection after reading

Eva Koopman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)
97 Downloads (Pure)


This study investigated the effects of foregrounding on affective responses (i.e., emotions) during reading, and on empathy and reflection after reading, using both quantitative and qualitative measures. In addition, the influence of personal factors (trait empathy, personal experience, exposure to literature) on empathy and reflection was explored. Participants (N = 142) were randomly assigned to read 1 of 3 versions of an excerpt from a literary novel about the loss of a child. Versions differed in the level of foregrounded textual features: the “original” version possessed a high level of semantic, phonetic, and grammatical foregrounding; semantic foregrounding was removed in the manipulated version “without imagery”; and semantic, phonetic and grammatical foregrounding were removed in the manipulated version “without foregrounding.” Results showed that readers who had read the “original” version scored higher on empathy after reading than those who had read the version “without foregrounding.” A quantitative analysis of qualitative data showed that participants reading the original version experienced significantly more ambivalent emotions than those in the version without foregrounding. Reflection did not seem to be influenced by foregrounding. Results suggest that personal factors may be more important in evoking reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-98
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts (print)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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