The impact of reading devices on affective and cognitive responses to fiction and non-fiction reading

Alexandri, Nikoletta and Citron, Francesca and Fulop, Erika and Harper, Richard (2023) The impact of reading devices on affective and cognitive responses to fiction and non-fiction reading. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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The belief that fiction reading can improve empathy has been prevalent in recent years, and research has provided arguments and evidence in favour of this belief (e.g., Mumper & Gerrig, 2017; Nussbaum, 2010). The emergence of screen interfaces, together with an increase in audiobook consumption, have raised questions about the potential effects of reading devices on readers’ experience. To understand the association between empathy and fiction reading, as well as the impact of reading devices, the first chapter provides a literature review, exploring the notion of empathy, the association between empathy and reading, and presents empirical evidence from previous studies. It also addresses the phenomena of absorption and narrative comprehension and their role in readers’ empathy. Then the literature review examines the role of the reading medium. It reviews existing literature on the differences between print and screen interfaces in reading processes as well as the differences between LCD and e-ink screen technologies. It closes by reviewing studies comparing the audiobook with the print reading experience. The second chapter reports an empirical study conducted as part of this thesis, exploring the effect of literary reading on empathy, shedding light on the effects of fictionality and reading devices (print, e-reader, tablet, and audiobook). The third chapter reports a novel empirical study examining the effect of fictionality and reading devices on absorption, while it also investigates the role of absorption in readers’ empathy. The fourth chapter is an empirical study that tests the effects of fictionality and reading medium on comprehension, and the role of comprehension in readers’ empathy and absorption. The last chapter discusses the contribution of the presented results, noting that literary reading can decrease empathy, that fictionality affects this impact, the lack of differences between screen and print interfaces and the distinctiveness of the audiobook reading experience.

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Thesis (PhD)
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Research Output Funding/yes_externally_funded
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Deposited On:
04 Apr 2023 16:35
Last Modified:
12 Jun 2024 23:54