Date of Award
Program or Major
Doctor of Philosophy
Edward J O'Brien
When two characters are mentioned in a text, one referred to by a title (e.g., professor) and one referred to by a proper name (e.g., Christopher), the character referred to by the name is more accessible in memory. Although there has been a lot of research documenting the advantages that name-designated characters have over title-designated characters, most of it has done so using very short texts. The experiments reported in this dissertation utilized longer passages of text to examine whether certain variables that are known to affect accessibility, such as order of mention, number of mentions, elaboration, and distance, will affect the advantages that name-designated characters typically have during reading.
Participants read passages containing two characters, one referred to by a title and one referred to by a proper name. In all experiments except for the rating studies, reading times were measured for sentences that reinstated either the name- or the title-designated character. Experiment 1b varied which character was introduced first. In Experiment 2b, one character was mentioned more often than the other character. In Experiment 3, the type of elaboration was varied: either the episodic or semantic traits of the title-designated character were emphasized. In Experiment 4, the distance between the last mention of the title- or name-designated character and the reinstatement sentence was varied. In all of the experiments except for Experiment 2b, reading time differences demonstrated that the name-designated character was more accessible than the title-designated character, regardless of the manipulation. In Experiment 2b, when the name-designated character was mentioned the most often, it was reinstated faster than the title-designated. When the title-designated character was mentioned the most often, the advantage that existed for the name-designated character in every other experiment was eliminated. The results are discussed in terms of the memory-based text processing view and an interaction between episodic and semantic memory.
Peracchi, Kelly A., "The advantage for name -designated characters during reading" (2004). Doctoral Dissertations. 214.