Distressful Empathy in Reading Literature: The Case for Terror Management Theory?

van Peer, Willie and Chesnokova, Anna and Springer, Matthias (2017) Distressful Empathy in Reading Literature: The Case for Terror Management Theory? "Наука і освіта" Науково-практичний журнал Південного наукового центру НАПН України (1). pp. 33-42. ISSN 2311-8466

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This article will investigate the extent to which predictions of Terror Management Theory also hold on reading literature. Indeed, death is ubiquitous in fiction. But does reading about it cause the same reactions as those predicted by Terror Management Theory? To answer this question, five reading experiments were carried out. The hypothesis, developed in the framework of Terror Management Theory, that direct confrontation with one’s mortality strengthens both prejudices against outsiders and enhances in-group values, was tested. Contrary to initial expectations, the results did not confirm the predictions, casting a shadow over the hypothesis of distressful empathy. This raises the question whether mortality salience in literary texts is different from other such confrontations. This leads us to the question why people indulge in such distressful emotions. It will be argued that confrontation with death in literature may actually relieve the tension produced by mortality reminders. This perspective may be linked to Aristotle’s notion of catharsis.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Empathy; Terror Management Theory; mortality salience; literary texts; non-fictional texts; catharsis.
Subjects: Статті у наукометричних базах > Erih Plus
Статті у наукометричних базах > Index Copernicus
Статті у наукометричних базах > Web of Science
Статті у журналах > Фахові (входять до переліку фахових, затверджений МОН)
Divisions: Інститути > Гуманітарний інститут > Кафедра англійської філології
Depositing User: Богдан Ігорович Грицеляк
Date Deposited: 08 Jul 2021 06:32
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2021 06:32
URI: https://elibrary.kubg.edu.ua/id/eprint/36790

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