Brewer & Lichtenstein (1981)

structural affect theory

Brewer, W. F., & Lichtenstein, E. H. (1981). Event schemas, story schemas, and story grammars. J. Long, & A. Baddeley (Eds.), Attention and Performance IX (pp. 363-379). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Story: "The Trip Home" (written for empirical study)

Presented on four pages; participants provide ratings after each page, and at end (my summary of pages 2-4)

1.    Sam Levine got into his old VW as the clock in City Hall struck six. Across the street a man waiting in a new Cadillac pushed a button, activating by remote control a 10-minute timer on a bomb hidden in Levine's car.
       Sam was tired and dreaded the 20-minute drive home. He had arrived at the office several hours earlier than the rest of the staff. The job of District Attorney was more work than he had thought it would be when he ran for the office. Taking on the Mob in court was a tough, exhausting job.

2. Sam decides to take a shortcut, so that he will be home in 10 minutes

3. Sam drives over road full of potholes. Hears a noise from the car. Finds a rock stuck in wheelrim; removes it. Sees it is 6:09 on his watch.

4. Drives on, arrives home, walks indoors. The WV explodes.

Versions of story:

After each page ratings on 7-point scale for Suspense and Surprise

At end of story, ratings for Story Liking, Whether a Story, etc.


Suspense Ratings

Conditions: Base; suspense standard (S-Std); suspense misarranged (S-Mis); suspense foreshadowing (S-Fsh); suspense no resolution (S-NR)

Surprise ratings


Mean Structural Ratings for Each Story Version

  Liking A Story
Base 2.15 2.45
Suspense Standard 4.85 5.05
Suspense Foreshadowing 4.30 4.45
Suspense Misarranged 3.65 4.50
Suspense No Resolution 3.85 2.75
Surprise 4.30 4.30

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Document prepared March 11th 2007