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The Effects of the Explicit Naming of Discrepancies between History Paintings and Historical Evidence on the Cognitive Processing, Evaluation and Memory of Pictorial Elements.

WorkgroupRealistic Depictions
Duration08/2017 – open end
FundingBudget resources
Project description

Viewers tend to perceive pictorial representations of historical events, such as those found in museums of history or art history, as a reliable source of information about the event depicted. However, paintings often intentionally distort reality, which requires a deeper de- and reconstructive examination. This PhD project investigates effects of an explicit naming of the discrepancy between a history painting and historical evidence on the viewing of the picture.

Based on the model of narrative engagement (Busselle & Bilandzic, 2008), it is expected that viewers are less transported into the event depicted, if discrepancies between the painting and the historical event are named. This should additionally enable a critical examination of the constructed reality of the image. On the basis of the framework model of multiple documents, it is expected that the naming of discrepancies influences the cognitive processing of source and image information, the evaluation of credibility, and the recall of pictorial elements. The cognitive processes are investigated using eye-tracking. Knowledge tests and self-reports are used to measure the resulting memory and the evaluation of the painting by the viewers. The results of the project can be used to derive recommendations for the design of image-accompanying audio texts, such as those used in museums of history and art history.


Knoos, M., Glaser, M., & Schwan, S. (2021). Multiple documents of text and picture: Naming a historical painting’s inaccuracies influences conflict regulation strategies. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 65, Article 101970.