Processing real-world violations embedded within a fantasy-world narrative

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove). 2018 Nov;71(11):2282-2294. doi: 10.1177/1747021817740836. Epub 2018 Jan 1.


Fantasy-text is a genre in which events routinely violate rules we know to be true in the real world. In four experiments, we explored the inherent contradiction between unrealistic fictional events and general world knowledge (GWK) to examine these competing information sources within the context of an extended fantasy-narrative. Experiments 1a and 1b demonstrated that fantasy-unrelated inconsistencies caused disruption to comprehension despite an abundance of contextual support for real-world impossible events that violate GWK. Experiment 2a demonstrated that fantasy-related inconsistencies caused disruption when they occurred at the local level and the fantasy-context stood in direct opposition to the target sentence. However, Experiment 2b demonstrated that disruption can be initially eliminated when readers encountered fantasy-related violations at the global level, but delayed-processing difficulty occurred on the spillover sentence, downstream of the target sentence. All four experiments are discussed within the context of the RI-Val model.

Keywords: Fantasy narrative; RI-Val model; validation.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Comprehension*
  • Concept Formation / physiology*
  • Fantasy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Narration*
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time
  • Reading
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult