Personal relevance in story reading: a research review

Poetics Today 39 (forthcoming)
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Although personal relevance is key to sustaining an audience’s interest in any given narrative, it has received little systematic attention in scholarship to date. Across centuries and media, adaptations have been used extensively to bring temporally or geographically distant narratives “closer” to the recipient under the assumption that their impact will increase. In this review article, we review experimental and other empirical evidence on narrative processing in order to unravel which types of personal relevance are more likely to be impactful than others, which types of impact (e.g. aesthetic, therapeutic, persuasive) they have been found to generate, and where their power may become excessive or outright detrimental to reader experience.

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Anezka Kuzmicova
Stockholm University


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