Imagining what could happen: Effects of taking the role of a character on social cognition

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In a series of experiments, Hakemulder (2000) showed that identifying with a story character representing a particular outgroup affects readers’ beliefs about that outgroup. The present contribution describes theories concerning the uses of imagining ourselves in the shoes of story characters. Second, it discusses the research concerning the fundamental processes that may underlie the effects of such imagination. And third, it presents the results of two experiments. The studies of Hakemulder (2000) were replicated, using a different story, examining the effects on not only university students (as in the previous studies) but also on high school students. Again it was shown that role-taking may be responsible for the effects of narratives on social cognition.


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