Inducing narrative tension in the viewer through suspense, surprise, and curiosity
Research into narrative tension is of interest in terms of the progress of knowledge of the processes and mechanisms by which stories are received and enjoyed. We have created four versions of an audiovisual story with three different structures of fiction (suspense, surprise, curiosity) and one of non-fiction. We have investigated the effects of the narrative tension of these stories with four groups of subjects (N=94). The results show that the organization of the stories, depending on their structures of suspense, surprise, or curiosity, induces narrative tension, while the non-fictional story, induces cognitive and affective effects of another kind. Narrative tension appears during narrative progression. It is manifested by cognitive-affective responses that include anticipations, diagnoses, retrospections, and emotions. In narrative tension, curiosity plays a triggering and organizing role in suspense and surprise. The emotions and cognitions that result from narrative tension during plot construction underpin the experience of enjoyment. The Multidimensional Narrative Tension Theory of Enjoyment that emerges from this research allows establishing connections between narrative theory concerned with narrative progression and plot, the psychology of interest, and the psychology of media enjoyment.
Jesús Bermejo-Berros, Jaime Lopez-Diez, Miguel Angel Gil Martínez,
Inducing narrative tension in the viewer through suspense, surprise, and curiosity, Poetics, 2022, 101664,