Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 136–141 | Cite as

Fictional narratives change beliefs: Replications of Prentice, Gerrig, and Bailis (1997) with mixed corroboration

  • Christian Wheeler
  • Melanie C. Green
  • Timothy C. Brock
Brief Reports


We report three exact replications of experiments aimed at illuminating how fictional narratives influence beliefs (Prentice, Gerrig, & Bailis, 1997). Students read fictional stories that contained weak, unsupported assertions and which took place either at their home school or at an away school. Prentice et al. found that students were influenced to accept the assertions, even those blatantly false, but that this effect on beliefs was limited to the away-school setting. We questioned the limiting of the narrative effect to remote settings. Our studies consistently reproduced the first finding, heightened acceptance of statements occurring in the conversations of narrative protagonists, but we failed to reproduce the moderating effect of school location. In an attempt to understand these discrepancies, we measured likely moderating factors such as readers’ need for cognition and their extent of scrutiny of the narratives.


  1. Brock, T. C. (1967). Communication discrepancy and intent to persuade as determinants of counterargument production.Journal of Experimental Social Psychology,3, 269–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., Feinstein, J. A., &Jarvis, B. W. G. (1996). Dispositional differences in cognitive motivation: The life and times of individuals varying in need for cognition.Psychological Bulletin,119, 197–253.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cacioppo, J. T., Petty, R. E., &Kao, C. F. (1984). The efficient assessment of need for cognition.Journal of Personality Assessment,48, 306–307.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Chaiken, S. (1987). The heuristic model of persuasion. In M. P. Zanna, J. M. Olson, & C. P. Herman (Eds.),Social influence: The Ontario Symposium (Vol. 5, pp. 3–39). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  5. Eagly, A. H., &Chaiken, S. (1993).The psychology of attitudes. Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.Google Scholar
  6. Gilbert, D. T. (1991). How mental systems believe.American Psychologist,46, 107–119.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Green, M. C. (1996).Mechanisms of narrative-based belief change. Unpublished master’s thesis, Ohio State University.Google Scholar
  8. Green, M. C., &Brock, T. C. (1996). Mechanisms of narrative persuasion.International Journal of Psychology,31, 13–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Petty, R. E., &Cacioppo, J. T. (1986).Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  10. Prentice, D. A., &Gerrig, R. J. (in press). Exploring the boundaries between fiction and reality. In S. Chaiken & Y. Trope (Eds.),Dual-process theories in social psychology. New York: Guilford.Google Scholar
  11. Prentice, D. A., Gerrig, R. J., &Bailis, D. S. (1997). What readers bring to the processing of fictional texts.Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,4, 416–420.Google Scholar
  12. Wheeler, S. C. (1997).Structural and dispositional determinants of the persuasive impact of fiction. Unpublished master’s thesis, Ohio State University.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christian Wheeler
    • 1
  • Melanie C. Green
    • 1
  • Timothy C. Brock
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyOhio State UniversityColumbus

Personalised recommendations