Date of Award

Spring 2015

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Edward J. O'Brien

Second Advisor

Jill McGaughy

Third Advisor

Robert Ross


A considerable amount of research has demonstrated that readers’ general world knowledge is passively activated and may influence comprehension. The experiments reported in this thesis were designed to investigate how factual information from general world knowledge that becomes available when reading a fictional narrative does not always disrupt reading comprehension. Across three experiments the amount of relevant information pertaining to the fictional narrative was systematically manipulated. Experiment I used parallel fictional narratives and substantial storybook openers. Experiments II and III utilized the same narratives, but reduced the openers. Taken together, the results of all three experiments demonstrated that enhancing the mental representation of the text mitigated the interfering effects of real-world expectations from general world knowledge when reading fictional narratives. These results are discussed within the framework of the memory-based view of text comprehension.

Available for download on Monday, April 01, 2115