Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN 2210-4372
  • E-ISSN: 2210-4380
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Some purport that literary fiction is determined by high inference demands. The subgenre of science fiction is often defined by story-world tropes that may reduce inferential demands. However, science fiction with high inference demands may also constitute literary fiction. Instead of inferential demands, it may be readers’ responses to setting that distinguishes science fiction and narrative realism. In two experiments, a story was manipulated for contemporary and science-fiction settings. Also, a version of each text with and without explanatory statements manipulated inference demand. Readers perceived the science-fiction text as lower in literary quality. For science fiction, readers also exerted less inference effort for theory of mind, but more for understanding the world. Regardless of inference effort, participants who read the story in the science-fiction world performed more poorly on comprehension. Readers’ expectations triggered by setting tropes seem to be particularly potent determinants of literary quality perceptions, inference effort, and comprehension.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): fiction; genre; inference; literariness; realism; theory of mind
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