Aging and the representation of spatial situations in narrative understanding

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Age differences in the construction of the situation model during text understanding were investigated. Situation model processing was measured in terms of the distance effect, the tendency for readers to process information about objects in a narrative more quickly when the objects are spatially closer to the protagonist than when they are farther away. To examine readers' ability to construct the model directly from the text, the distance effect was contrasted for objects that were either presented in a layout of the narrative setting prior to reading (learned objects) or introduced in the narrative itself (new objects). Both younger and older readers showed strong distance effects for learned objects. When objects had not been learned but were only introduced in the text, however, younger adults did not show a reliable distance effect. Older adults with high levels of comprehension did, lending support to the position that older readers differentially rely on the situation model for effective narrative understanding.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P291-P297
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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