Traditional research on situation models has examined the accessibility of locations and objects during narrative experiences. These studies have described a ubiquitous gradient effect: Spatial locations and objects in reader focus are more accessible than locations farther from this focus, with accessibility decreasing as a function of distance. How might readers' expectations about character movement, beyond information about spatial locations, additionally affect this accessibility gradient? In two experiments, we investigated whether reader expectations for character movement impact the accessibility of spatial information from memory. In Experiment 1, participants read stories that described characters moving in either a unidirectional or a random pattern through a learned environment. In Experiment 2, characters moved forward in a unidirectional way or backtracked through previously explored rooms. The results suggest that reader expectations for character movement can influence the accessibility of spatial information. Such expectations play a critical role in processes of narrative comprehension.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)