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The pleasures of reading fiction explained by flow, presence, identification, suspense, and cognitive involvement.

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Thissen,  Birte A. K.
Department of Language and Literature, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Menninghaus,  W.
Department of Language and Literature, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;

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Schlotz,  Wolff
Scientific Services, Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics, Max Planck Society;
Institute of Psychology, Goethe University Frankfurt;

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Citation

Thissen, B. A. K., Menninghaus, W., & Schlotz, W. (2020). The pleasures of reading fiction explained by flow, presence, identification, suspense, and cognitive involvement. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Advance online publication. doi:10.1037/aca0000367.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0007-8090-4
Abstract
The present study proposes that flow is not only a key predictor of the pleasures of reading narratives but also modulates other important dimensions of the fiction reading experience, such as a sense of being present in the story world, identification with protagonists, feelings of suspense, cognitive involvement with the story, and text comprehension. All of these aspects, which until now have mostly been investigated separately, were assessed online for 373 participants after they read a chapter of Homer’s The Odyssey. To measure flow, we administered an extended and revised reading-specific flow scale, which showed adequate factorial structure, good reliability estimates, and theoretically expected associations with flow-related constructs and criteria. Despite rather high intercorrelations, confirmatory factor analyses demonstrated that flow, presence, identification, suspense, and cognitive involvement constituted distinguishable dimensions within the fiction reading experience. Structural equation modeling further provided evidence that flow can be a key component in this experience. Specifically, it revealed positive effects of flow on presence, identification, suspense, reading pleasure, and text comprehension. Model comparisons supported the role of flow as a mediator and catalyst for other positive reading dimensions. Moreover, pruned models suggested that flow together with suspense increased the model’s predictive validity by serving as a suppressor variable. Although, to date, the concept of flow has played only a minor role in research on fiction reading, our results suggest that it deserves being integrated into future theoretical frameworks and empirical investigations of positive reading experiences. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)