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Surprise: Disconfirmed expectations or representation-fit?

Maguire, Rebecca and Keane, Mark (2006) Surprise: Disconfirmed expectations or representation-fit? In: Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 1765-1770.

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Surprise for a particular event is often thought to correspond to the degree to which that event deviates from an expected schema. However, in this paper we present two novel experiments that challenge this view. Participants were asked to rate how surprised they would be if an event, or series of events, followed on from a number of short scenarios. In one condition these events confirmed an expected outcome, while in another they contradicted this outcome. A third condition included a potential enabling factor along with the unexpected outcome. The results show that, even when events deviate significantly from an established schema, surprise is lower if people have a means of integrating that event into their representation. This finding is consistent with our theory of Representation-Fit, which asserts that a person’s level of surprise for a given event can be determined by how well that event is supported by the prior discourse.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > Psychology > Emotions > Surprise
Divisions: School of Business > Staff Research and Publications
Depositing User: Caoimhe Ní Mhaicín
Date Deposited: 15 May 2014 14:42
Last Modified: 15 May 2014 14:42

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