Narrative empathy and inter-group relations

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In this study we assumed that the relation between readers’ and characters’ group identity would influence narrative empathy and thereby the impact of a short story. We used three social psychological models (infrahumanization, mentalization and linguistic inter-group bias) to test our assumptions. Methodologically, we used a narrative recall paradigm based on the assumption that narrative recall carries also the experiential aspects of the text processing and thereby enables a fine grained analysis of meaning construction. We also measured liking of the story as an impact variable and the strength of national identification as a moderator variable. Results only partly supported our assumptions. Whereas empathy and liking are strongly correlated, Hungarian subjects overall did not feel more empathy with the characters of the Hungarian story version, did not like more this story, did not assign more secondary emotions to the Hungarian characters, and did not describe positive behavior of the Hungarian characters more abstractly then happened in the case of the “Slovak story” version.


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