Emotion and the force of fiction

Philosophy and Literature 32 (2):pp. 258-277 (2008)
Abstract
Attempts to explain emotional responses to fiction such as Jenefer Robinson's use of research into the psychology of emotions. Robinson argues that triggers for emotion are much the same way whether a stimulant is real or imaginary. This does not explain the influence of our foreknowledge and continuing judgments during emotional episodes. We know beforehand and all along that the people and events we respond to in fiction are not real. Robinson's difficulty comes from her dependence on an input-output model of the emotions. Research on mental processing improves on this by revealing a relationship between at least two types of processes: data-driven processing and hypothesis-driven processing (otherwise known as schema processing). It is this relationship that accounts for the emotional response to fiction.
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