Cognition and Emotion in Narratives of Redemption: An Automated Analysis

AbstractRedemptive narratives are stories of challenge, failure, or adversity that in some way acknowledge the goodness or personal growth that came of the recounted difficult event. In this paper we use a corpus-statistic based approach to explore the role of cognition and emotion in these narrative arcs. In particular, we trace the shift from negative to positive sentiment (a change in the emotional valence) and vice to virtue (evidence of cognitive, moral processing) within the narrative. Our results suggest that cognitive processes, more than emotion, drive the shift to goodness and growth that is at the core of redemptive narratives. We discuss the implications of these results to both narrative psychology and cognitive psychology.

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