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Trick for writers: the best “you” that “I”

It could be that some narrative resources would be more appropriate to put in place those processes in the reader than others. For example: do you respond to the readers in a way different from the stories, depending on whether they are narrated from the perspective of “you” or “I”?

That is the question that is proposed to respond to a study published in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology. Although the work is of the past year, I have come up to him through a brief overview in the blog of the Association for Psychological Science.

The authors wanted to determine if the prospect affected:

  • The memory of features of the situation presented in the narrative, such as the time, the space, the context and the characters
  • The emotional experience of the readers of the story

To do this, the authors chose two fiction novels, of which extracted four passages each. The passages were modifiedso that express perspectives of first person (using the pronoun “I”) or second person (using the pronoun “You”).

The passages modified were presented to 48 students from Tufts University for his reading, in two groups of four passages. After the reading of one of the groups, the researchers offered the students a set of math problems to keep them busy with a task unrelated to the experiment. After the math problems, the subjects were presented the other group of four stories.

For each story read by the students, the researchers took the following measures:

  • Understanding of the text: test yes / no response 48 questions (6 per passage), 8 of which related with the knowledge context of the story, 24 with the knowledge of the characters, 8 with the knowledge temporary and 8 with the knowledge space.
  • Questionnaire of emotions: a set of 10 adjectives to estimate the valence of affective of the students before reading the passage, and after you read it.

The data showed that when students read the stories written with the pronoun “you” (perspective, second-person), increasing the emotional connection with the passage; in addition, students were more able to recall details space on the scenario described in the story.

As we said in the article:

Results demonstrate that readers differentially represent narrative worlds as a function of perspective, developing richer spatial mental models of layouts and a greater ‘internationalization’ of emotional events when directly addressed as a protagonist


Image by churl