In the eye of the recipient
Pupillary responses to suspense in literary classics
Plot suspense is one of the most important components of narrative fiction that motivate recipients to follow fictional characters through their worlds. The present study investigates the dynamic development of narrative suspense in excerpts of literary classics from the 19th century in a multi-methodological approach. For two texts, differing in suspense as judged by a large independent sample, we collected (a) data from questionnaires, indicating different affective and cognitive dimensions of receptive engagement, (b) continuous ratings of suspense during text reception from both experts and lay recipients, and (c) registration of pupil diameter as a physiological indicator of changes in emotional arousal and attention during reception. Data analyses confirmed differences between the two texts at different dimensions of receptive engagement and, importantly, revealed significant correlations of pupil diameter and the course of suspense over time. Our findings demonstrate that changes of the pupil diameter provide a reliable ‘online’ indicator of suspense.
Cited by 3 other publications
This list is based on CrossRef data as of 24 january 2023. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.