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Factors of Narrative Understanding

WorkgroupPerception and Action  Lab
FundingIWM budget resources
Project description

The comprehension of different types of narratives (NC), e.g., text or comics, is important for societal participation. This dissertation project investigates which factors influence NC. These findings are essential for developing interventions to improve NC in different age groups and thus also to enable greater societal participation, especially in a constantly changing world (e.g. digitalization or internet use).

An aging society and a higher everyday stress level caused by recent drastic global changes pose new questions also regarding cognitive abilities like NC. Factors such as aging, low well-being, depression, and stress can negatively affect our cognitive abilities. However, how they affect NC is not yet clear. For interventions and the targeted use of narratives it is also important to examine what may contribute positively to NC in addition to potentially negative effects.

In cooperation with the TREND longitudinal study, the project first answers these questions in an elderly sample. For this purpose, various positive (sport, mental fitness, stable social contacts) and negative (depression, anxiety disorder, chronic pain, stress, and poor sleep quality) potential influencing factors are examined. To obtain a full understanding of NC, this data will be complemented by data from a younger student sample. As stimulus material we use self-developed structured comics also available in text versions. By comparing text and image versions of the narratives, we can also investigate whether the examined influences on NC are codality-dependent.

Since not only the general stress level but also acute stressful situations can affect cognitive performance, we are also interested in the question whether NC of comic material differs under acute stress.

The insights gained in this project improve our understanding of NC in different groups and for different narrative forms and identify positive and negative influencing factors. This aids intervention developement and a more targeted use of comics to communicate different information.

  • Apl. Prof. Dr. Gerhard W. Eschweiler, Senior Physician at the University Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Tübingen