What Do Readers’ Mental Models Represent? Understanding Audience Processing of Narratives by Analyzing Mental Models Drawn by Fiction Readers in India

Neelam Sharma


This study extends the narrative-processing literature by examining mental models constructed by individuals who have read the same narrative. Sixteen adults from Chandigarh (India) read a fictional story in Hindi, drew a picture of the story, and participated in an in-depth interview. Findings showed that human characters from the story featured in a majority of these drawings and that the strength of character involvement impacted the character’s size, detailing, and placement in readers’ mental model drawings. Readers also constructed abstract and symbolic mental models. This study corroborates research indicating that readers empathize with multiple narrative characters and that character involvement crosses generations and genders.


narrative processing, mental models, character identification, absorption, India

Full Text: