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Affective-News Theory: Effects of Narrative Structure on Suspense, Curiosity, and Enjoyment While Reading News and Novels
Unformatted Document Text:  News Narratives 7 The present experimental study investigates reactions of the audience to news reports compared to responses to novels. The postulated predictions form the Affective-News Theory that expands assumptions of the structural-affect theory to news. Not only novels, but also news, are assumed to evoke affects, depending on the discourse structure used therein. Emphasis for news, is therefore placed on affective impact of news instead of effective news transmission which has been the focus of much research (e.g., "Poor Reception," Gunter, 1987). The Affective-News Theory suggests that a course of events presented either in a linear discourse structure or in a discourse structure with omission will lead to suspense or curiosity, respectively, as dominating affective response. The depicted events contain an initiating event with possible significant consequences for individuals or groups involved in the matter, as well as an outcome. Besides linear and omission structures, the Affective-News Theory includes the inverted-pyramid style as a third discourse-structure. The type of structure should determine the intensity of affect, as well as what kind of affect predominates. While linear and omission structures produce affects, the inverted-pyramid style characteristically does not arouse emotions. By the same token, reading enjoyment is lower for texts that follow this traditional news’ style. Furthermore, according to the Affective-News Theory, these responses to text structures are independent of the authenticity of the depicted events. Namely, journalistic reports, as well as literary essays potentially lead to the affective responses, as long as the combination of event and discourse structures follows the outlined rules. Possibly, news reports, in contrast to literary essays, are not expected to provide full information, as it is often not at hand. Hence, journalistic narratives in the sense of a single report may not always resolve suspense or curiosity. However, in the course of news reporting, possibly over an extended period, the lacking information on how something ended (to resolve suspense) or on how something came about (to resolve curiosity) is expected to be provided. For instance, if a newspaper writes about an upcoming election, readers will expect to be informed about the election results as well.

Authors: Knobloch, Silvia. and Carpentier, Francesca.
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background image
News Narratives 7
The present experimental study investigates reactions of the audience to news reports
compared
to responses to novels. The postulated predictions form the Affective-News Theory that expands
assumptions of the structural-affect theory to news. Not only novels, but also news, are assumed to
evoke affects, depending on the discourse structure used therein. Emphasis for news, is therefore
placed on affective impact of news instead of effective news transmission which has been the focus of
much research (e.g., "Poor Reception," Gunter, 1987).
The Affective-News Theory suggests that a course of events presented either in a linear discourse
structure or in a discourse structure with omission will lead to suspense or curiosity, respectively, as
dominating affective response. The depicted events contain an initiating event with possible significant
consequences for individuals or groups involved in the matter, as well as an outcome. Besides linear
and omission structures, the Affective-News Theory includes the inverted-pyramid style as a third
discourse-structure. The type of structure should determine the intensity of affect, as well as what kind
of affect predominates. While linear and omission structures produce affects, the inverted-pyramid
style characteristically does not arouse emotions. By the same token, reading enjoyment is lower for
texts that follow this traditional news’ style. Furthermore, according to the Affective-News Theory,
these responses to text structures are independent of the authenticity of the depicted events. Namely,
journalistic reports, as well as literary essays potentially lead to the affective responses, as long as the
combination of event and discourse structures follows the outlined rules. Possibly, news reports, in
contrast to literary essays, are not expected to provide full information, as it is often not at hand. Hence,
journalistic narratives in the sense of a single report may not always resolve suspense or curiosity.
However, in the course of news reporting, possibly over an extended period, the lacking information on
how something ended (to resolve suspense) or on how something came about (to resolve curiosity) is
expected to be provided. For instance, if a newspaper writes about an upcoming election, readers will
expect to be informed about the election results as well.


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