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Using Characters’ Goal Plans to Define Narrative Complexity: An Updated Definition Chastity C. McFarlan Silas E. Burris Laura A. O’Shea Danielle D. Brown.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Characters’ Goal Plans to Define Narrative Complexity: An Updated Definition Chastity C. McFarlan Silas E. Burris Laura A. O’Shea Danielle D. Brown."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Characters’ Goal Plans to Define Narrative Complexity: An Updated Definition Chastity C. McFarlan Silas E. Burris Laura A. O’Shea Danielle D. Brown

2 Pervasiveness of Narratives Educational settings Entertainment Conversations Berger, 1997; Graesser, Golding, & Long, 1991; Trabasso, 1994

3 What is a Narrative? Characters Problem (initiating event) Goals, attempts, and outcomes (goal structure)

4 Understanding characters’ goal plans plays an important role in narrative comprehension. Narrative Goal Plans Graesser, Singer & Trabasso, 1994; Wenner, 2004

5 Narrative Goal Plan Goal-attempt-outcome episodes Superordinate and subordinate goals Hierarchical structure

6 Defining Narrative Goal Plan Figure 1. General hierarchical goal structure with goals, attempts, outcomes, and a reinstatement.

7 Defining Narrative Goal Plan Figure 1. General hierarchical goal structure with goals, attempts, outcomes, and a reinstatement.

8 Causal Inferences Narrative goal plans are held together by causal inferences Enabling inference: “Jordan woke up the next morning (antecedent) and wanted to bake a cake (consequent).” Physical inference: She cracked the eggs (antecedent) and then scrambled them (consequent).” Motivational inference: “She wanted sprinkles on the cake (antecedent), so she bought some from the store (consequent).” Psychological inference: “The house smelled of pastries (antecedent); she was so happy (consequent).”

9 Importance of Goal Plans and Causal Inferences Their role in narrative comprehension Increase memory for narrative events during recall Aid in retention when narratives are relatively long Lead to more generated inferences Lutz & Radvansky, 1997; Lynch et al., 2008; Wenner, 2004

10 Their role in everyday experiences Goal-directed human behavior Understanding social behavior Importance of Goal Plans and Causal Inferences

11 Problem Little is known regarding how variations in goal structure characteristics impact the mental representations required to comprehend the stories.

12 Current Study The current study described narrations to three wordless picture books in order to make explicit the varying goal structure characteristics and the mental representations required to comprehend the narratives.

13 Current Study Participants 100 Howard University students recruited from Psychology courses “Mature” narrative comprehension processes Method Each participant narrated three wordless picture books Narrations were audiotaped, transcribed, and coded for causal connections and goal structure characteristics Extracted goal structures using NVivo9

14 Mental Representations DimensionsFrog, Where are You? A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog One Frog, Too Many Levels in the hierarchical goal structure 325 Number of GAO episodes777 Number of sub-goal structures123 Competing goalsNoYes Presence of goal objectAbsentPresentAbsent Tangibility of goal objectConcrete Abstract Table 1. Goal structure characteristics of each narrative

15 Goal Plan of Frog, Where are You? Mayer, 1969

16 Goal Plan of A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog Mayer, 1967

17 Goal Plan of One Frog, Too Many Mayer & Mayer, 1975

18 Causal Inference Generation Type of Inference Frog, Where are You? A Boy, a Dog, and a Frog One Frog, Too Many EnablingM = 22.03, SD = >M = 18.38, SD = 9.78 M = 3.99, SD = 3.60 M = 0.55, SD = 1.03 PsychologicalM = 2.05, SD = 2.28

19 Implications Theoretical Understand the characteristics of narratives that impact comprehension processes Develop definition of narrative complexity Practical How to present complex information to inexperienced audiences.

20 Future Directions DimensionsBook 1Book 2Book 3Book 4Book 5Book 6Book 7Book 8 Main Goal Completion Successful Abandoned Presence of goal object AbsentPresentAbsentPresentAbsentPresentAbsentPresent Tangibility of goal object Concrete Abstract Concrete Abstract Table 3. Goal structure characteristics of future narratives

21 Thank you!


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