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The Interaction of Time Shifts and Goal Structure in Written Narratives

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  1. The Interaction of Time Shifts and Goal Structure in Written Narratives William Levine University of Arkansas

  2. Time and comprehension Temporal adverbials • events, actions (Zwaan, 1996; Zwaan, Madden, & Whitten, 2000) • spatial information (Levine & Klin, 2001) • characters (Anderson, Garrod, & Sanford, 1983) Tense & aspect • events, actions (Magliano & Schleich, 2000) • spatial information (Morrow, 1985) • characters (Carreiras, Carriedo, Alonso, & Fernandez, 1997) • attributes (Carreiras et al., 1997)

  3. property (event, person, etc.) time shift property time shift

  4. Time and goals Goals are like events? • Yes, they have a temporal arc. • No, intentions are mental states. Goals are like attributes? • Yes, they help explain a character’s actions. • No, they are typically more important.

  5. Experiment 1 - Sample passage The atmosphere on the cruise ship was getting tense. Several valuable items had disappeared from the cabins, and the captain needed to find the thief. But there were several hundred passengers. The captain conducted a thorough investigation … … but was unable to nab the thief. (unsatisfied goal) … and was able to nab the thief. (satisfied goal) A few minutes later / The next day, the captain was sitting in his office. Recognition probe: thief His desk was covered in reports of stolen items, and he decided that he should just call the police at the next port. He was a ship captain, not an investigator. (unsatisfied goal ending) His desk was covered in thank-you cards from the passengers, and he was proud of himself for catching the thief so quickly. (satisfied goal ending)

  6. Prediction?

  7. Experiment 1 - Methods • Self-paced, line-by-line reading • Probes signaled by XXX for 500 ms • Probes were nouns related to goal • Speed and accuracy emphasized • Fillers, lures • 56 subjects (UA undergrads)

  8. Experiment 1 - Results

  9. Experiment 1 - Summary • Slight time-shift effect for satisfied goals • Slight reverse time-shift effect for unsatisfied goals • No goal satisfaction effect

  10. Experiment 2 - Sample passage The atmosphere on the cruise ship was getting tense. Several valuable items had disappeared from the cabins, and the captain needed to find the thief. But there were several hundred passengers. The captain conducted a thorough investigation … … but was unable to solve the crime. (unsatisfied goal) … and was able to solve the crime. (satisfied goal) A few minutes later / The next day, the captain was sitting in his office. Recognition probe: thief His desk was covered in reports of stolen items, and he decided that he should just call the police at the next port. He was a ship captain, not an investigator. (unsatisfied goal ending) His desk was covered in thank-you cards from the passengers, and he was proud of himself for catching the thief so quickly. (satisfied goal ending)

  11. Experiment 2 - Methods • Same as Exp 1 except that speed was heavily emphasized • 44 subjects (UA undergrads)

  12. Experiment 2 - Results

  13. Experiment 2 - Summary • Slight time-shift effect for satisfied goals • Reverse time-shift effect for unsatisfied goals • Goal satisfaction effect after long time shift (but not after short shift)

  14. Conclusions • Reverse time-shift effect for unsatisfied goals • Suspense & p-responses (Allbritton & Gerrig, 1991)? • Weak time-shift effect for satisfied goals • Satisfied goals do not settle to baseline (Lutz & Radvansky, 1997) • Drawbacks: • non-significant findings • effects peculiar to passages? • Future research: • different tasks • different passages & goal-types • Bigger picture: multidimensional situation models