ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

›› 2011, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (07): 763-770.

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The Effect of Protagonist’s Emotion and Time Information Representation on the Situation Model Process

LU Zhong-Yi;MA Hong-Xia   

  1. (1 College of Education, Hebei Normal University, Shijiazhuang 050091, China)
    (2 College of Psychology, Hebei United University, Tangshan 063000, China)
  • Received:2010-10-06 Revised:1900-01-01 Online:2011-07-30 Published:2011-07-30
  • Contact: LU Zhong-Yi

Abstract: Text comprehension is a process that people construct mental representation of the information the text described. The mechanism of text comprehension has always been a hot issue for cognitive psychologists. Recently, in the study of text comprehension, the mechanism of situation model processing has been focused on. Situation model, the deep-seated mental representation during reader’s reading comprehension, includes five dimensions: temporality, spatiality, causality, intentionality, and protagonist. Most psychological experts have agreed that the construction and processing of situational model result from the interaction of the five dimensions.
Although the protagonist’s emotions play a very important role in the construction and processing of situational model, there are only a few experimental studies on it so far. Therefore the primary purpose of this study is to explore the mechanism of the protagonist’s emotion in the processing of situation model. Former research on the temporality dimension has mainly focused on the representation of temporal shift or temporal distance from a single dimension. Actually, construction and update of the situation model are influenced by multiple dimensions. So the second purpose of this study is to combine the factors of protagonist’s emotions with temporal shift, so as to explore the effect of protagonist’s emotions and time information representation on the situation model process.
A hundred and twenty college students have participated in this study, forty in experiment group 1, and eighty in experiment group 2. Through moving window and recording the reading time of the critical sentence, experiment 1 was designed to explore the functions of protagonist’s emotions, experiment 2 to explore the functions of protagonist’s emotions and temporal shift on situation model processing. Using E-Prime software on Legend Computer, experiment 1 is single-factor within-subjects design, experiment 2 is 4 × 2 within-subjects design. The subjects are required to self-regulate their reading. When they finish reading one sentence and press the space key, the next sentence emerges and the former sentence disappears. After finishing one text, the emergence of a red "?????" prompted the subjects to answer a comprehensive question about the text. The reading time of the critical sentence is analyzed with repeated measure MANOVA.
The results of experiment 1 indicate that the representation of the protagonist’s emotions in text comprehension is on-line, and positive emotion and negative emotion affect the situation model differently. The processing of positive emotion is easier than negative emotion. The results of experiment 2 indicate that when temporal shift becomes larger, it’s more difficulty for readers to update the information in the “worry-worry” condition of protagonist’s emotions, Non-conversion effect of negative emotions emerges.
This study, in keeping trace of the readers’ representation of the protagonist’s emotions in text comprehension, has found that conversion effect of protagonist’s emotions is limited, positive emotions is conductive to the construction of situation models, and temporal shift factor does affect the processing of protagonist’s emotions to some degree. Under big temporal shift conditions, there probably appears a stack effect in the “worry-worry” condition of protagonist’s emotions, while under small temporal shift conditions, the reader spends more cognitive resources constructing from relief to worry of protagonist’s emotions.

Key words: situational model, protagonist’s emotions, temporal shift