Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Previous research suggests a link between perspective-taking and the tendency to become immersed in narratives or literature. We extend that research by considering both individual differences and persuasion outcomes. Specifically, Mind-Reading Motivation (MRM) is an individual difference in the willingness to effortfully engage with other people’s perspectives and mental states. Stories may be most influential when readers put themselves in the place of another person, even a fictional other. In Study 1, higher MRM was correlated with more fiction reading but not more nonfiction reading. Studies 2a and 2b demonstrated that higher MRM was associated with greater transportation into a narrative. We replicated this effect in Study 3, showing that MRM was associated with both higher transportation and narrative persuasion. The effect of MRM on persuasion is mediated by connections to the characters. This research helps identify which individuals are most likely to be persuaded by narrative communications.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Appel, M., Gnambs, T., & Maio, G. R.
    (2012) A short measure of the need for affect. Journal of Personality Assessment, 94(4), 418–426. doi:  10.1080/00223891.2012.666921
    https://doi.org/10.1080/00223891.2012.666921 [Google Scholar]
  2. Appel, M., & Richter, T.
    (2010) Transportation and need for affect in narrative persuasion: A mediated moderation model. Media Psychology, 13(2), 101–135. doi:  10.1080/15213261003799847
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15213261003799847 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bäckström, M., & Björkland, F.
    (2007) Structural model of generalized prejudice: The role of social dominance, authoritarianism, and empathy. Journal of Individual Differences, 28, 10–17. doi:  10.1027/1614‑0001.28.1.10
    https://doi.org/10.1027/1614-0001.28.1.10 [Google Scholar]
  4. Baesler, E. J., & Burgoon, J. K.
    (1994) The temporal effects of story and statistical evidence on belief change. Communication Research, 21, 582–602. doi:  10.1177/009365094021005002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/009365094021005002 [Google Scholar]
  5. Bal, P. M., & Veltkamp, M.
    (2013) How does fiction reading influence empathy? An experimental investigation on the role of emotional transportation. PLoS ONE, 8(1): e55341. doi:  10.1371/journal.pone.0055341
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0055341 [Google Scholar]
  6. Bandura, A.
    (1986) Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Baron-Cohen, S., Wheelwright, S., Hill, J., Raste, Y., & Plumb, I.
    (2001) The “Reading the Mind in the Eyes” Test revised version: A study with normal adults, and adults with Asperger syndrome or high-functioning autism. The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 42(2), 241–251. 10.1111/1469‑7610.00715
    https://doi.org/10.1111/1469-7610.00715 [Google Scholar]
  8. Black, J. E., & Barnes, J. L.
    (2015) The effects of reading material on social and non-social cognition. Poetics, 52, 32–43. 10.1016/j.poetic.2015.07.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2015.07.001 [Google Scholar]
  9. Braverman, J.
    (2008) Testimonials versus informational persuasive messages: The moderating effect of delivery mode and personal involvement. Communication Research, 35, 666–694. doi:  10.1177/0093650208321785
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650208321785 [Google Scholar]
  10. Busselle, R., & Bilandzic, H.
    (2009) Measuring narrative engagement. Media Psychology, 12(4), 321–347. 10.1080/15213260903287259
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15213260903287259 [Google Scholar]
  11. Camerer, C. F., Dreber, A., Holzmeister, F., Ho, T. H., Huber, J., Johannesson, M., … & Altmejd, A.
    (2018) Evaluating the replicability of social science experiments in Nature and Science between 2010 and 2015. Nature Human Behaviour, 2(9), 637–644. 10.1038/s41562‑018‑0399‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0399-z [Google Scholar]
  12. Carpenter, J. M., Green, M. C., & Vacharkulksemsuk, T.
    (2016) Beyond perspective-taking: Mind-reading motivation. Motivation and Emotion, 40(3), 358–374. 10.1007/s11031‑016‑9544‑z
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s11031-016-9544-z [Google Scholar]
  13. Carpenter, J. M., Green, M. C., & LaFlam, J.
    (2011) People or profiles: Individual differences in online social networking use. Personality and Individual Differences, 50, 538–541. 10.1016/j.paid.2010.11.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.11.006 [Google Scholar]
  14. Cohen, J.
    (2001) Defining identification: A theoretical look at the identification of audiences with media characters. Mass Communication & Society, 4, 245–264. doi:  10.1207/S15327825MCS0403_01
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327825MCS0403_01 [Google Scholar]
  15. Dahlstrom, M. F.
    (2014) Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(Supplement 4), 13614–13620. 10.1073/pnas.1320645111
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1320645111 [Google Scholar]
  16. Dal Cin, S., Zanna, M., & Fong, G.
    (2004) Narrative persuasion and overcoming resistance. InE. Knowles & J. Linn (Eds.), Resistance and Persuasion (pp.175–191). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Davis, M. H.
    (1980) A multidimensional approach to individual differences in empathy. JSAS Catalog of Selected Documents in Psychology, 10, 85.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. (1983) Measuring individual differences in empathy: Evidence for a multidimensional approach. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 113–126. doi:  10.1037/0022‑3514.44.1.113
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.44.1.113 [Google Scholar]
  19. De Mulder, H. N., Hakemulder, F., van den Berghe, R., Klaassen, F., & van Berkum, J. J.
    (2017) Effects of exposure to literary narrative fiction. Scientific Study of Literature, 7(1), 129–169. 10.1075/ssol.7.1.06dem
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.7.1.06dem [Google Scholar]
  20. de Wit, J. B. F., Das, E., & Vet, R.
    (2008) What works best: Objective statistics or a personal testimonial? An assessment of the persuasive effects of different types of message evidence on risk perception. Health Psychology, 27(1), 110–115. doi:  10.1037/0278‑6133.27.1.110
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-6133.27.1.110 [Google Scholar]
  21. Fletcher, G. J. O., Danilovics, P., Fernandez, G., Peterson, D., & Reeder, G. D.
    (1986) Attributional complexity: An individual differences measure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 875–884. doi:  10.1037/0022‑3514.51.4.875
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.51.4.875 [Google Scholar]
  22. Galinsky, A., Ku, G., & Wang, C.
    (2005) Perspective-taking and self-other overlap: Fostering social bonds and facilitating social coordination. Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 8, 109–124. doi:  10.1177/1368430205051060
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1368430205051060 [Google Scholar]
  23. Galinsky, A. D., & Moskowitz, G. B.
    (2000) Perspective-taking: Decreasing stereotype expression, stereotype accessibility, and in-group favoritism. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 78(4), 708–724. doi:  10.1037/0022‑3514.78.4.708
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.78.4.708 [Google Scholar]
  24. Gerrig, R. J.
    (1993) Experiencing narrative worlds. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Giles, D. C.
    (2002) Parasocial interaction: A review of the literature and a model for future research. Media Psychology, 4, 279–302. doi:  10.1207/S1532785XMEP0403_04
    https://doi.org/10.1207/S1532785XMEP0403_04 [Google Scholar]
  26. Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C.
    (2000) The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 79, 701–721. doi:  10.1037/0022‑3514.79.5.701
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.79.5.701 [Google Scholar]
  27. (2002) In the mind’s eye: Imagery and transportation into narrative worlds. InM. C. Green, J. J. Strange, & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative Impact: Social and Cognitive Foundations (pp.315–341). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Hakemulder, F., Kuijpers, M. M., Tan, E. S., Balint, K., & Doicaru, M. M.
    (Eds.) (2017) Narrative Absorption. Amsterdam, Netherlands: John Benjamins. 10.1075/lal.27
    https://doi.org/10.1075/lal.27 [Google Scholar]
  29. Johnson, D. R.
    (2013) Transportation into literary fiction reduces prejudice against and increases empathy for Arab-Muslims. Scientific Study of Literature, 3(1), 77–92. 10.1075/ssol.3.1.08joh
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.3.1.08joh [Google Scholar]
  30. Johnson, M., Brems, C., & Alford-Keating, P.
    (1997) Personality correlates of homophobia. Journal of Homosexuality, 34, 57–69. doi:  10.1300/J082v34n01_05
    https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v34n01_05 [Google Scholar]
  31. Kaufman, G. F., & Libby, L. K.
    (2012) Changing beliefs and behavior through experience-taking. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 103, 1–19. doi:  10.1037/a0027525
    https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027525 [Google Scholar]
  32. Kaufman, E. A., Xia, M., Fosco, G., Yaptangco, M., Skidmore, C. R., & Crowell, S. E.
    (2016) The Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale Short Form (DERS-SF): Validation and replication in adolescent and adult samples. Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 38(3), 443–455. doi:  10.1007/s10862‑015‑9529‑3
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s10862-015-9529-3 [Google Scholar]
  33. Kidd, D. C., & Castano, E.
    (2013) Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind. Science, 342(6156), 377–380. doi:  10.1126/science.1239918
    https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1239918 [Google Scholar]
  34. Kidd, D., Ongis, M., & Castano, E.
    (2016) On literary fiction and its effects on theory of mind. Scientific Study of Literature, 6(1), 42–58. 10.1075/ssol.6.1.04kid
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.6.1.04kid [Google Scholar]
  35. Kuijpers, M. M., Hakemulder, F., Tan, E. S., & Doicaru, M. M.
    (2014) Exploring absorbing reading experiences. Scientific Study of Literature, 4(1), 89–122. 10.1075/ssol.4.1.05kui
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.4.1.05kui [Google Scholar]
  36. Mar, R. A.
    (in press). Evaluating whether stories can promote social cognition: Introducing the social processes and content entrained by narrative (SPaCEN) framework. Discourse Processes. doi:  10.1080/0163853X.2018.1448209
    https://doi.org/10.1080/0163853X.2018.1448209 [Google Scholar]
  37. Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., & Peterson, J. B.
    (2009) Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes. Communications, 34, 407–428. doi:  10.1515/COMM.2009.025
    https://doi.org/10.1515/COMM.2009.025 [Google Scholar]
  38. Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., Hirsh, J., dela Paz, J., & Peterson, J. B.
    (2006) Bookworms versus nerds: Exposure to fiction versus non-fiction, divergent associations with social ability, and the simulation of fictional social worlds. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 694–712. doi:  10.1016/j.jrp.2005.08.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2005.08.002 [Google Scholar]
  39. Mastro, D., & Tukachinsky, R.
    (2011) The influence of exemplar versus prototype-based media primes on racial/ethnic evaluations. Journal of Communication, 61(5), 916–937. 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2011.01587.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2011.01587.x [Google Scholar]
  40. Mazzocco, P., Green, M., Sasota, J. & Jones, N.
    (2010) This story is not for everyone: Transportability and narrative persuasion. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 1, 361–368. doi:  10.1177/1948550610376600
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550610376600 [Google Scholar]
  41. Mumper, M. L., & Gerrig, R. J.
    (2017) Leisure reading and social cognition: A meta-analysis. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11(1), 109–120. 10.1037/aca0000089
    https://doi.org/10.1037/aca0000089 [Google Scholar]
  42. Oatley, K.
    (2002) Emotions and the story worlds of fiction. InM. C. Green, J. J. Strange, & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations (pp.39–69). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Oliver, M. B., Dillard, J. P., Bae, K., & Tamul, D. J.
    (2012) The effect of narrative news format on empathy for stigmatized groups. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 89(2), 205–224. doi:  10.1177/1077699012439020
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1077699012439020 [Google Scholar]
  44. Panero, M. E., Weisberg, D. S., Black, J., Goldstein, T. R., Barnes, J. L., Brownell, H., & Winner, E.
    (2016) Does reading a single passage of literary fiction really improve theory of mind? An attempt at replication. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(5), e46–e54. doi:  10.1037/pspa0000064
    https://doi.org/10.1037/pspa0000064 [Google Scholar]
  45. Preacher, K. J., & Hayes, A. F.
    (2008) Asymptotic and resampling strategies for assessing and comparing indirect effects in multiple mediator models. Behavior Research Methods, 40, 879–891. doi:  10.3758/BRM.40.3.879
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BRM.40.3.879 [Google Scholar]
  46. Premack, D., & Woodruff, G.
    (1978) Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind?Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1(4), 515–526. 10.1017/S0140525X00076512
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X00076512 [Google Scholar]
  47. Samur, D., Tops, M., & Koole, S. L.
    (2018) Does a single session of reading literary fiction prime enhanced mentalising performance? Four replication experiments of Kidd and Castano (2013). Cognition and Emotion, 32(1), 1–15. doi:  10.1080/02699931.2017.1279591
    https://doi.org/10.1080/02699931.2017.1279591 [Google Scholar]
  48. Schiappa, E., Gregg, P. B., & Hewes, D. E.
    (2006) Can one TV show make a difference? Will & Grace and the parasocial contact hypothesis. Journal of Homosexuality, 51(4), 15–37. 10.1300/J082v51n04_02
    https://doi.org/10.1300/J082v51n04_02 [Google Scholar]
  49. Sestir, M., & Green, M. C.
    (2010) You are who you watch: Identification and transportation effects on temporary self-concept. Social Influence, 5(4), 272–288. doi:  10.1080/15534510.2010.490672
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15534510.2010.490672 [Google Scholar]
  50. Singhal, A., Cody, M. J., Rogers, E. M., & Sabido, M.
    Eds. (2004) Entertainment-education and social change: History, research, and practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Slater, M. D., & Rouner, D.
    (2002) Entertainment-education and elaboration likelihood: Understanding the processing of narrative persuasion. Communication Theory, 12(2), 173–191. doi:  10.1111/j.1468‑2885.2002.tb00265.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2885.2002.tb00265.x [Google Scholar]
  52. Van Laer, T., de Ruyter, K., Visconti, L. M., & Wetzels, M.
    (2014) The extended transportation-imagery model: A meta-analysis of the antecedents and consequences of consumers’ narrative transportation. Journal of Consumer Research, 40, 797–817. doi:  10.1086/673383
    https://doi.org/10.1086/673383 [Google Scholar]
  53. Wallentin, M., Simonsen, A., & Nielsen, A. H.
    (2013) Action speaks louder than words: Empathy mainly modulates emotions from theory of mind-laden parts of a story. Scientific Study of Literature, 3(1), 137–153. 10.1075/ssol.3.1.11wal
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.3.1.11wal [Google Scholar]
  54. Whalen, D. H., Zunshine, L., Ender, E., Kelbert, E., Tougaw, J., Barsky, R. F., Steiner, P. & Holquist, M.
    (2017) Validating judgments of perspective embedding. Scientific Study of Literature, 6(2), 278–297. 10.1075/ssol.6.2.05wha
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.6.2.05wha [Google Scholar]
  55. Whalen, D., Zunshine, L., & Holquist, M.
    (2012) Theory of Mind and embedding of perspective: A psychological test of a literary “sweet spot.” Scientific Study of Literature, 2(2), 301–315. 10.1075/ssol.2.2.06wha
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.2.2.06wha [Google Scholar]
  56. Zunshine, L.
    (2006) Why we read fiction: Theory of mind and the novel. Columbus: The Ohio State University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. (2008) Theory of mind and fictions of embodied transparency. Narrative, 16, 65–92. doi:  10.1353/nar.2008.0004
    https://doi.org/10.1353/nar.2008.0004 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): individual differences; motivation; narrative; perspective-taking; transportation
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error