Volume 11, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



We investigated the effects of narrative perspective on mental imagery by comparing responses to an English translation of Franz Kafka’s () in the published version (narrated in the third person) versus an earlier (first-person) draft. We analysed participants’ pencil drawings of their imaginative experience for presence/absence of specific features (K. and the castle) and for image entropy (a proxy for image unpredictability). We also used word embeddings to perform cluster analysis of participants’ verbal free-response testimony, generating thematic clusters independently of experimenter expectations. We found no effects of text version on feature presence or overall entropy, but an effect on entropy variance, which was higher in the third-person condition. There was also an effect of text version on free responses: Readers of the third-person version were more likely to use words associated with mood and atmosphere. We offer conclusions on “Kafkaesque” aesthetics, cognitive realism, and the future of experimental literary studies.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Allington, D.
    (2011) “It actually painted a picture of the village and the sea and the bottom of the sea”: Reading groups, cultural legitimacy, and description in narrative (with reference to John Steinbeck’s The Pearl). Language and Literature, 20(4), 317–332. 10.1177/0963947011398558
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0963947011398558 [Google Scholar]
  2. Andersen, S. M., & Schwartz, A. H.
    (1992) Intolerance of ambiguity and depression: A cognitive vulnerability factor linked to hopelessness. Social Cognition, 10(3), 271–298. 10.1521/soco.1992.10.3.271
    https://doi.org/10.1521/soco.1992.10.3.271 [Google Scholar]
  3. Bardi, A., Guerra, V. M., & Ramdeny, G. S. D.
    (2009) Openness and ambiguity intolerance: Their differential relations to well-being in the context of an academic life transition. Personality and Individual Differences, 47(3), 219–223. 10.1016/j.paid.2009.03.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2009.03.003 [Google Scholar]
  4. Block, N.
    (1981) Imagery. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Bortolussi, M., & Dixon, P.
    (2003) Psychonarratology: Foundations for the empirical study of literary response. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Brown, M. B., & Forsythe, A. B.
    (1974) Robust tests for the equality of variances. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 69(346), 364–367. 10.1080/01621459.1974.10482955
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01621459.1974.10482955 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bryant, D. J., Tversky, B., & Franklin, N.
    (1992) Internal and external spatial frameworks for representing described scenes. Journal of memory and language, 31(1), 74–98. 10.1016/0749‑596X(92)90006‑J
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-596X(92)90006-J [Google Scholar]
  8. Budner, S.
    (1962) Intolerance of ambiguity as a personality variable. Journal of Personality, 30(1), 29–50. 10.1111/j.1467‑6494.1962.tb02303.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1962.tb02303.x [Google Scholar]
  9. Bulmer, M. G.
    (1979) Principles of statistics (2nd ed.). New York: Dover.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Carney, J.
    (2020) The role of aesthetic style in alleviating anxiety about the future. InJ. Carroll, M. Clasen, & E. Jonsson (Eds), Evolutionary perspectives on imaginative culture (pp.141–159). Cham: Springer. 10.1007/978‑3‑030‑46190‑4_8
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-46190-4_8 [Google Scholar]
  11. Clark, A.
    (2016) Surfing uncertainty: Prediction, action, and the embodied mind. New York: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190217013.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190217013.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  12. Cohn, D.
    (1968) K. enters The Castle: On the change of person in Kafka’s manuscript. Euphorion, 62, 28–43.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. (1978) Transparent minds: Narrative modes for presenting consciousness in fiction. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 10.1515/9780691213125
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9780691213125 [Google Scholar]
  14. Davis, F. C., Neta, M., Kim, M. J., Moran, J. M., & Whalen, P. J.
    (2016) Interpreting ambiguous social cues in unpredictable contexts. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11(5), 775–782. 10.1093/scan/nsw003
    https://doi.org/10.1093/scan/nsw003 [Google Scholar]
  15. Foglia, L., & O’Regan, J. K.
    (2016) A new imagery debate: Enactive and sensorimotor accounts. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 7(1), 181–196. 10.1007/s13164‑015‑0269‑9
    https://doi.org/10.1007/s13164-015-0269-9 [Google Scholar]
  16. Frenkel-Brunswick, E.
    (1949) Intolerance of ambiguity as emotional and perceptual personality variable. Journal of Personality, 18(1), 108–143. 10.1111/j.1467‑6494.1949.tb01236.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6494.1949.tb01236.x [Google Scholar]
  17. Grillon, C., Baas, J. P., Lissek, S., Smith, K., & Milstein, J.
    (2004) Anxious responses to predictable and unpredictable aversive events. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118(5), 916–924. 10.1037/0735‑7044.118.5.916
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0735-7044.118.5.916 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hakemulder, F.
    (2000) The moral laboratory: Experiments examining the effects of reading literature on social perception and moral self-concept. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 10.1075/upal.34
    https://doi.org/10.1075/upal.34 [Google Scholar]
  19. Hakemulder, J., & Koopman, E.
    (2010) Readers closing in on immoral characters’ consciousness: Effects of free indirect discourse on response to literary narratives. Journal of Literary Theory, 4(1), 41–62. 10.1515/jlt.2010.004
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jlt.2010.004 [Google Scholar]
  20. Haralick, R. M., Shanmugam, K., & Dinstein, I. H.
    (1973) Textural features for image classification. IEEE Transactions on Systems, Man, and Cybernetics, 6, 610–621. 10.1109/TSMC.1973.4309314
    https://doi.org/10.1109/TSMC.1973.4309314 [Google Scholar]
  21. Hartung, F., Burke, M., Hagoort, P., & Willems, R. M.
    (2016) Taking perspective: Personal pronouns affect experiential aspects of literary reading. PLOS ONE, 11(5), e0154732. 10.1371/journal.pone.0154732
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0154732 [Google Scholar]
  22. Huth, A. G., De Heer, W. A., Griffiths, T. L., Theunissen, F. E., & Gallant, J. L.
    (2016) Natural speech reveals the semantic maps that tile human cerebral cortex. Nature, 532(7600), 453–458. 10.1038/nature17637
    https://doi.org/10.1038/nature17637 [Google Scholar]
  23. Ingarden, R.
    (1965) (3rd ed.) Das literarische Kunstwerk. Mit einem Anhang: Von den Funktionen der Sprache im Theaterschauspiel. Tübingen: Niemeyer.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Jach, H. K., & Smillie, L. D.
    (2019) To fear or fly to the unknown: Tolerance for ambiguity and Big Five personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality, 79, 67–78. 10.1016/j.jrp.2019.02.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrp.2019.02.003 [Google Scholar]
  25. Kafka, F.
    (1925/1982) Das Schloß. Ed.M. Pasley. New York: Schocken 1982.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Kaiser, D. H., & Deaver, S.
    (2009) Assessing attachment with the Bird’s Nest Drawing: A review of the research. Art Therapy, 26(1), 26–33. 10.1080/07421656.2009.10129312
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07421656.2009.10129312 [Google Scholar]
  27. Kotovych, M., Dixon, P., Bortolussi, M., & Holden, M.
    (2011) Textual determinants of a component of literary identification. Scientific Study of Literature, 1(2), 260–291. 10.1075/ssol.1.2.05kot
    https://doi.org/10.1075/ssol.1.2.05kot [Google Scholar]
  28. Krippendorff, K.
    (1986) Information theory: Structural models for qualitative data. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. 10.4135/9781412984485
    https://doi.org/10.4135/9781412984485 [Google Scholar]
  29. Kuzmičová, A.
    (2012) Presence in the reading of literary narrative: A case for motor enactment. Semiotica, 189, 23–48. 10.1515/semi.2011.071
    https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.2011.071 [Google Scholar]
  30. Lakoff, G.
    (1987) Women, fire, and dangerous things: What categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 10.7208/chicago/9780226471013.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226471013.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  31. Levin, D. T., Momen, N., Drivdahl IV, S. B., & Simons, D. J.
    (2000) Change blindness blindness: The metacognitive error of overestimating change-detection ability. Visual Cognition, 7(1–3), 397–412. 10.1080/135062800394865
    https://doi.org/10.1080/135062800394865 [Google Scholar]
  32. Liao, H. I., Yeh, S. L., & Shimojo, S.
    (2011) Novelty vs. familiarity principles in preference decisions: Task-context of past experience matters. Frontiers in Psychology, 2, 43. 10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00043
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2011.00043 [Google Scholar]
  33. Löfstedt, T., Brynolfsson, P., Asklund, T., Nyholm, T., & Garpebring, A.
    (2019) Gray-level invariant Haralick texture features. PLOS ONE, 14(2), e0212110. 10.1371/journal.pone.0212110
    https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0212110 [Google Scholar]
  34. Marks, D. F.
    (1973) Visual imagery differences in the recall of pictures. British Journal of Psychology, 64(1), 17–24. 10.1111/j.2044‑8295.1973.tb01322.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2044-8295.1973.tb01322.x [Google Scholar]
  35. Millis, K. K.
    (1995) Encoding discourse perspective during the reading of a literary text. Poetics, 23(3), 235–253. 10.1016/0304‑422X(94)00028‑5
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0304-422X(94)00028-5 [Google Scholar]
  36. Myin, E., & Degenaar, J.
    (2014) Enactive vision. InL. Shapiro (Ed.), Routledge handbook of embodied cognition (pp.90–98). Abingdon: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Noë, A.
    (2004) Action in perception. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  38. Noë, A.
    (2005) Real presence. Philosophical Topics, 33(1), 235–264. 10.5840/philtopics20053319
    https://doi.org/10.5840/philtopics20053319 [Google Scholar]
  39. Pascal, R.
    (1977) The dual voice: Free indirect speech and its functioning in the nineteenth-century European novel. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  40. Pearson, J., & Kosslyn, S. M.
    (2015) The heterogeneity of mental representation: Ending the imagery debate. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(33), 10089–10092. 10.1073/pnas.1504933112
    https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1504933112 [Google Scholar]
  41. Proulx, T., & Heine, S. J.
    (2009) Connections from Kafka: Exposure to meaning threats improves implicit learning of an artificial grammar. Psychological Science, 20(9), 1125–1131. 10.1111/j.1467‑9280.2009.02414.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2009.02414.x [Google Scholar]
  42. Pylyshyn, Z. W.
    (2003) Seeing and visualizing: It’s not what you think. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 10.7551/mitpress/6137.001.0001
    https://doi.org/10.7551/mitpress/6137.001.0001 [Google Scholar]
  43. Reddy, L., Tsuchiya, N., & Serre, T.
    (2010) Reading the mind’s eye: Decoding category information during mental imagery. Neuroimage, 50(2), 818–825. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.11.084
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2009.11.084 [Google Scholar]
  44. Rosch, E.
    (1975) Cognitive representations of semantic categories. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 104(3), 192–233. 10.1037/0096‑3445.104.3.192
    https://doi.org/10.1037/0096-3445.104.3.192 [Google Scholar]
  45. Roth, N., Lev-Wiesel, R., & Shochat, T.
    (2019) “How do you sleep?” Sleep in self-figure drawings of young adolescents in residential care facilities – An exploratory study. Sleep Medicine, 60, 116–122. 10.1016/j.sleep.2019.01.028
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sleep.2019.01.028 [Google Scholar]
  46. Salem, S., Weskott, T., & Holler, A.
    (2017) Does narrative perspective influence readers’ perspective-taking? An empirical study on free indirect discourse, psycho-narration and first-person narration. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 2(1), 61. 10.5334/gjgl.225
    https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.225 [Google Scholar]
  47. Sato, M., Sakai, H., Wu, J., & Bergen, B.
    (2012) Towards a cognitive science of literary style: Perspective-taking in processing omniscient versus objective voice. InProceedings of the 34th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 959–964.
    [Google Scholar]
  48. Seriès, P., & Seitz, A.
    (2013) Learning what to expect (in visual perception). Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 668. 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00668
    https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2013.00668 [Google Scholar]
  49. Shannon, C. E.
    (1951) Prediction and entropy of printed English. InBell System Technical Journal, 30(1), 50–64. 10.1002/j.1538‑7305.1951.tb01366.x
    https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1538-7305.1951.tb01366.x [Google Scholar]
  50. Simons, D. J., & Rensink, R. A.
    (2005) Change blindness: Past, present, and future. Trends in cognitive sciences, 9(1), 16–20. 10.1016/j.tics.2004.11.006
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tics.2004.11.006 [Google Scholar]
  51. Swami, V., Stieger, S., Pietschnig, J., & Voracek, M.
    (2010) The disinterested play of thought: Individual differences and preference for surrealist motion pictures. Personality and Individual Differences, 48(7), 855–859. 10.1016/j.paid.2010.02.013
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2010.02.013 [Google Scholar]
  52. Thomas, N. J. T.
    (2014) Mental imagery. InE. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Fall 2020 Ed.). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2020/entries/mental-imagery/
    [Google Scholar]
  53. Troscianko, E. T.
    (2010) Kafkaesque worlds in real time. Language and Literature, 19(2), 151–171. 10.1177/0963947010362913
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0963947010362913 [Google Scholar]
  54. Troscianko, E.T.
    (2012) The cognitive realism of memory in Flaubert’s Madame Bovary. Modern Language Review, 107, 772–795. 10.5699/modelangrevi.107.3.0772
    https://doi.org/10.5699/modelangrevi.107.3.0772 [Google Scholar]
  55. Troscianko, E. T.
    (2013) Reading imaginatively: The imagination in cognitive science and cognitive literary studies. Journal of Literary Semantics, 42(2), 181–198. 10.1515/jls‑2013‑0009
    https://doi.org/10.1515/jls-2013-0009 [Google Scholar]
  56. (2014a) Kafka’s cognitive realism. Abingdon: Routledge. 10.4324/9780203082591
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203082591 [Google Scholar]
  57. (2014b) Reading Kafka enactively. Paragraph, 37(1), 15–31. 10.3366/para.2014.0107
    https://doi.org/10.3366/para.2014.0107 [Google Scholar]
  58. Van Lissa, C. J., Caracciolo, M., van Duuren, T., & van Leuveren, B.
    (2016) Difficult empathy: The effect of narrative perspective on readers’ engagement with a first-person narrator. Diegesis, 5(1), 43–63.
    [Google Scholar]
  59. van Peer, W., & H. Pander Maat
    (1996) Perspectivation and sympathy: Effects of narrative point of view. InR. J. Kruez & M. S. MacNeally (Eds), Empirical approaches to literature and aesthetics (pp.143–156). New York: Ablex.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. van Peer, W., & Pander Maat, H.
    (2001) Narrative perspective and the interpretation of characters’ motives. Language and Literature, 10, 229–241. 10.1177/0973‑9470‑20010803‑04
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0973-9470-20010803-04 [Google Scholar]
  61. Walton, Kendall L.
    (1990) Mimesis as make-believe: On the foundations of the representational arts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  62. Wilson, D., & Sperber, D.
    (2004) Relevance theory. InL. R. Horn & G. L. Ward (Eds), The handbook of pragmatics (pp.607–632). Malden, MA: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  63. Wittchen, H. U., & Hoyer, J.
    (2001) Generalized anxiety disorder: Nature and course. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 62(11), 15–21.
    [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

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