Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
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Three experiments were conducted on how properties of the text control one aspect of the process of identifying with the central character in a story. In particular, we were concerned with textual determinants of character transparency, that is, the extent to which the character’s actions and attitudes are clear and understandable. In Experiment 1, we hypothesized that the narrator in first-person narratives is transparent because narratorial implicatures (analogous to Grice’s (1975) notion of conversational implicatures) lead readers to attribute their own knowledge and experience to the narrator. Consistent with our predictions, the results indicated that stating the inferred information explicitly leads readers to rate the narrator’s thoughts and actions as more difficult to understand. In Experiment 2, we assessed whether this effect could be explained by differences in style between the original and modified versions of the text. The results demonstrated that there was no effect of adding text when the material was unrelated to narratorial implicatures. In Experiment 3, we hypothesized that transparency of the central character in a third-person narrative can be produced when the consistent use of free-indirect speech produces a close association between the narrator and the character; in this case, readers may attribute knowledge and experience to the character as well as the narrator. As predicted, the central character’s thoughts and actions were rated as more difficult to understand when the markers for free-indirect speech were removed. We argue that transparency may be produced through the use of what are essential conversational processes invoked in service of understanding the narrator as a conversational participant.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): communication; free-indirect speech; identification; narrator
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