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Adam Larson, Chris Wallace, Margarita McQuade, Caitlyn Badke, Lester Loschky; The Impact of Scrambling the Order of Episode Components on Perceived Events and Recognition Memory for a Picture Story. Journal of Vision 2011;11(11):1132. doi: 10.1167/11.11.1132.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
Story Grammars (Mandler & Johnson, 1977; Thorndyke, 1977) hierarchically organize narratives into separate structures. One such grammar (Baggett, 1979) parses stories into separate episodes, which are divided into three components: the exposition, complication, and resolution. The exposition introduces the character and setting, the complication presents a goal, and the resolution shows the character achieving the goal. Our previous research examined the effect of scrambling these components on recognition memory for a picture story. We hypothesized that scrambling the components would increase the number of perceived events, producing better memory at the event boundaries (Hanson & Hirst, 1989; Lassiter et al., 1991). However, we found no difference in recognition memory between the scrambled versus normal episodes. This study tested one explanation for this finding, namely that scrambling did not increase the number of perceived events, by measuring viewers' event segmentation behavior.
We selected six episodes from the film The Red Balloon, with each episode component composed of 4 pictures. Pictures were presented for two seconds (ISI = 1 sec). Participants viewed either scrambled or normal episodes and pressed a button whenever they perceived a new meaningful activity. Prior to the experiment, participants practiced identifying events in a short video of folding laundry, a picture story version of it, then two picture story episodes from The Red Balloon not used in the experiment.
The results showed that the mean number of button presses did not differ between the scrambled and normal conditions. However, scrambling significantly increased the mean button presses for the first pictures in the exposition and resolution, suggesting viewers perceived new events there due to decreased story coherence. Interestingly, this increased perception of new events for these pictures did not produce better recognition memory for them, contrary to predictions from previous research (Lassiter et al., 1991; Zacks et al., 2007).
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