Psychological processes underlying literary impact

Richard J. Gerrig, David N. Rapp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Most psychological researchers now accept the premise that literary narratives have an effect on people's everyday lives. Contemporary research examines the types of psychological processes that give rise to literary impact. The article describes experiments in two broad areas. First, it supports a position called the willing construction of disbelief and relates that to readers' feelings of having been transported to narrative worlds. The data suggest that readers must expend strategic effort to reject the information thev acquire from literary narratives. Second, the article discusses the ways in which the unfolding of causes and consequences in literary narratives affect readers' judgments and understanding of characters and outcomes. These experiments support the claim that readers may derive bodies of evidence from their literary experiences that they apply to their own life experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-281
Number of pages17
JournalPoetics Today
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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