2004
Volume 41, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1573-9775
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1236

Abstract

Abstract

Three previous studies into presenting a protagonist in a story as more or less sympathetic have not provided a clear picture of the effects that the portrayal of the protagonist may have on transportation, and via transportation on story-consistent beliefs. Results from a first study ( = 83) by De Graaf and Hustinx (2015) suggest that the way the protagonist is portrayed – as sympathetic, unsympathetic or neutral – influences the extent to which readers are transported into a story. No significant effects on beliefs of the readers were found, however. In a direct replication study ( = 79) and in a conceptual replication study ( = 81), Jansen, Nederhoff, and Ooms (2017) found results that supported the hypotheses from the original study to a limited extent. In view of the relatively small numbers of participants in these three studies and the resulting limited power of the statistical tests two new, larger-scaled replication studies were conducted. A direct replication study was performed ( = 238) with the same versions of the story as used in the original study, and also a conceptual replication study ( = 248) with three versions of a new story. Again, the hypotheses from the original study were supported to a limited extent. A meta-analysis of all five studies revealed a large indirect positive effect of story version on transportation via empathy, when comparing the versions with a sympathetic protagonist with the versions with an unsympathetic protagonist. When comparing the neutral story versions with the versions with an unsympathetic protagonist, the meta-analytic indirect effect was medium sized. Other than what the (Raney, 2004; Zillmann, 1994; 2006) claims, the story versions with a neutral protagonist did not lead to an absence of emotional responses. Furthermore, the outcomes add to the (Green & Brock, 2002; Van Laer, De Ruyter, Visconti, & Wetzels, 2014). While this model does not include concrete suggestions of story characteristics that lead to transportation, our studies show that a protagonist who is portrayed as sympathetic may contribute to the level of transportation that readers experience, be it indirectly through empathy.

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2019-11-01
2021-07-30
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