NORMA eResearch @NCI Library

Expecting a surprise? The effect of expectations on perceived surprise in stories

Grimes-Maguire, Rebecca and Keane, Mark (2005) Expecting a surprise? The effect of expectations on perceived surprise in stories. In: Proceedings of the Twenty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, pp. 833-838.

[thumbnail of Expecting_a_surprise_paper.pdf]
Download (200kB) | Preview


This paper describes two novel experiments that investigate the cognitive basis of surprise in stories depicting simple, everyday events. Participants were asked to read a number of short scenarios, each of which concluded with some surprise event for the central protagonist. The story versions differed in how strongly they predicted this ‘surprise’ conclusion, by varying the degree of attention drawn to key enabling conditions for that conclusion. The effect of this manipulation on participants’ surprise ratings, and the speed with which they read the final sentence, were used as dependent measures. The results of our experiments show that the specific representations built by people in understanding the earlier part of a story have definite effects on their level of surprise at later events. Furthermore, the pattern of reading times for the target sentences supports the explanation given for these differences. We discuss the consistency of these findings with theories of discourse comprehension and describe how such effects might be modelled computationally.

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 14:50
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2014 15:56

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item