As a part of the course I have taken, I have to apply what I’ve learned to my life in the form of a project, a paper, or whatever I chose. I’ve read a lot about how reading Literary Fiction can increase empathy, but I guess what I am most interested in is the emotional response my own creative writing can illicit in others. I wanted to copy the experiment done here but with a brand new piece of my own Fiction.
The first step to completing the project was to complete my story (easier said than done). I made sure that, after I had written the story, I selected the passages I thought were most emotional and defined what emotion I intended to illicit in the reader. The next step was to develop a streamlined instructional page. Because many of the subjects I would be using would come from other areas than Missoula, I had to make sure the experiment was easy to interpret from a mere typed text. I included an instruction page that asked the subject to read the passage provided. When they felt an emotion, they would mark or type “E” next to the passage. If they had a memory triggered, they would write or type “M.” Any other thoughts would be marked with a mere “T.” Subjects were told only to provide marks when they felt any of these things strongly, and not to feel that they needed to provide any marks if they felt nothing. They were also encouraged to define the emotion, memory, or thought and to quantify it’s intensity if they felt it was necessary.
I wanted to do this project because I felt it was the perfect combination of Science and the Humanities in a way that will help me with something I truly care about: writing. In the end, I hope to leave with some helpful raw data that surprises me and gives me a new angle to view my own work from.
As I have yet to finish this project, I will update the blog with the results. I predict that women subjects will be more apt to report emotion than men, that the emotional reports will be lower than I anticipate, and that unrelated thoughts will be higher than I anticipate.