Emotion and narrative fiction: Interactive influences before, during, and after reading

Cogn Emot. 2011 Aug;25(5):818-33. doi: 10.1080/02699931.2010.515151. Epub 2011 May 24.


Emotions are central to the experience of literary narrative fiction. Affect and mood can influence what book people choose, based partly on whether their goal is to change or maintain their current emotional state. Once having chosen a book, the narrative itself acts to evoke and transform emotions, both directly through the events and characters depicted and through the cueing of emotionally valenced memories. Once evoked by the story, these emotions can in turn influence a person's experience of the narrative. Lastly, emotions experienced during reading may have consequences after closing the covers of a book. This article reviews the current state of empirical research for each of these stages, providing a snapshot of what is known about the interaction between emotions and literary narrative fiction. With this, we can begin to sketch the outlines of what remains to be discovered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Books*
  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Narration*
  • Reading*