Journal of Cultural Cognitive Science

, Volume 2, Issue 1–2, pp 85–100 | Cite as

Preliminary steps towards a cognitive theory of fiction and its effects

  • Gianluca ConsoliEmail author


In the last few years there has been a real explosion of studies on fiction and its effects in social, cognitive, and media psychology, in communication science, in different subdisciplines of cognitive neuroscience, in experimental aesthetics, and in the numerically aided phenomenological approach to the study of fiction. This research is at an early stage and there is general consensus that it presents conspicuous shortcomings. In this paper I expressly address one of the most relevant limitations: the lack of an interdisciplinary integration among the different trends of research. I propose a theoretical-empirical review that integrates some of the most crucial findings concerning the fictional processing and its persuasive and learning effects across disciplines. The review is presented as a network of interconnected theoretical hypotheses, based on widely shared and well-researched conceptual constructs. Each hypothesis is supported by recent relevant findings and connects different lines of research. Taken together, the hypotheses represent a preliminary step towards a cognitive theory of fiction and its effect.


Simulation Narrative Fiction Transportation Identification Epistemic vigilance Reflection 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social and Developmental PsychologyLa Sapienza, University of RomeRomeItaly

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