How Social Dynamics Shape Our Understanding of Reality

  • Anna AbrahamEmail author
Part of the International and Cultural Psychology book series (ICUP)


Abraham examines the intrinsic effortless capacity for human beings to create and immerse themselves in multiple fictional worlds yet still not lose sight of reality. The reality–fiction distinction is discussed both as a developmental phenomenon and as an emergent product of our social experience. It is argued that the reality–fiction distinction is facilitated by spontaneous attributions of personal relevance, which is mainly defined by a variety of cultural factors.

Abraham discusses the experimental neuroimaging evidence for the brain response when making reality–fiction distinctions and demonstrates that the findings are consistent with other culture-related phenomena. The medial prefrontal cortex is highlighted as a key brain region that modulates the determinations of personal relevance. Multiple studies are highlighted to corroborate this postulation.

Abraham concludes with a discussion of the implications of the reality–fiction distinction for intercultural relations. It is argued that an understanding of the reality–fiction distinction could be applied to studies of acculturation, community identity, and prejudice.


Reality–fiction Reality–fantasy Narrative comprehension Functional neuroimaging Cognitive neuroscience Default mode Imagination Self-relevance Personal relevance Personal significance  Sociocultural factors 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychology, School of Social, Psychological and Communication SciencesLeeds Beckett UniversityLeedsUK

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