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date: 26 July 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter reviews empirical research on aesthetic responses to stories, organizing our review around characters, plots, worlds or setting, and stylistic choices. We begin by outlining various responses to characters and how they influence us. Next, we discuss emotional, cognitive, and physiological reactions to plot events. We also touch on the confusing appeal of stories that elicit negative emotions, suggesting that they inspire insight. Next, we focus on the worlds in which stories take place, outlining how engagement in story worlds affects enjoyment and story-related beliefs. We also review our tendencies to revisit narrative worlds, and how different worlds map onto different genres. Finally, we discuss how characters, plots, and settings can be portrayed in different ways, based on stylistic choices. We explain how adopting a unique style of presenting stories captures attention and invites reflection and engagement. Lastly, we discuss future challenges and goals facing this field.

Keywords: stories, character identification, parasocial relationships, plot, self-modifying feelings, transportation, narrative persuasion, genre, foregrounding, defamiliarization

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