Embodied Fictions: Narratives of the Face Open Access

O'Grady, Aneyn Mara (2015)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/tm70mv74v?locale=en


The present study developed a methodology to record the display of facial expressions while engaging in fiction to examine the relationship between empathy and the embodied processing of narratives. Five hypotheses were tested: (1) Exposure to fiction (e.g., short-story, short film, spoken story) elicits facial expression displays (FED). (2) Higher levels of empathy predict a higher number of FED while engaging in fiction. (3) Emotional contagion is correlated with empathy level. (4) Lifetime exposure to fiction (LEF) is correlated with absorption and empathy ratings. (5) The frequency of FED while engaging in fiction is correlated with emotional contagion and absorption ratings. Video recordings confirmed participants physically process fiction stimuli. A simple linear regression to test hypothesis 2 found no significant relationship. Bivariate correlations were run to test hypotheses 3, 4, and 5. Emotional contagion was positively correlated with empathy level (p < .01). The experience of engaging in fiction and its potential relationship with improving social skill still merit future research.

Table of Contents

Introduction 8

The Many Faces of Empathy 9

Empathy and Mimicry in Social Interaction 11

Accessing Other Minds 13

Fiction as Simulation of Social Interaction 15

Social Ability and Exposure to Fiction 18

Embodied Cognition and Embodied Transparency 19

Statement of the Problem 22

Method 24

Participants 24

Procedure 25

Design Strategy 25

Materials and Measure 27

Apparatus 33

Results 33

Discussion 36

Interpretation of Findings 36

Contributions to Psychology 37

Limitations 39

Implications 39

Future Directions 40

Conclusions 41

References 43

Tables and Figures 56

Appendices 59

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