Text Technology: Building Subjective and Shared Experience in Reading

in Journal of Cognition and Culture
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?


This article presents a case study of a facilitator-lead “shared reading” group with participants suffering from mental health problems. We argue that the text is the most important agent in creating a reading experience which is both subjective and shared. And we point to relatedness as a function of text agency, and to the role of facilitation in creating text-reader relations. The article also presents a new methodological framework combining physiological data of heart rate variability and linguistic, observational and subjective data. By integrating these distinct data points in our analysis we demonstrate the ways in which the text functions as an agent driving processes of individuation and synchronization respectively. On the basis of linguistic analysis of readers’ responses and interactions we point to the cognitive process of mentalization underlying both individual readings and collective meaning making. At the end we discuss the relation of mentalization to diagnosis and argue that “shared reading” may function as an intervention form with a potential for modifying way of thinking; knowing when to read into and when not, and mode of thought; shifting from explanation to experience.

Text Technology: Building Subjective and Shared Experience in Reading

in Journal of Cognition and Culture



BillingtonJ.DavisP.FarringtonG. Reading as participatory art: an alternative mental health therapy Journal of Arts and Communities 2014 5 25 40

BlikstedV. F.FagerlundB.WeedE.FrithC. D.VidebechP. Social cognition and neurocognitive deficits in first-episode schizophrenia Schizophrenia Research 2014 153 9 17

BräunerP. Litteratur, læring og inklusion – Et studie af læsegrupperne i Ringe Statsfængsel in press Aarhus Jordens Folk, Dansk Etnografisk Forening

DowrickC.BillingtonJ.RobinsonJ.HamerA.WilliamsC. “Get into Reading as an intervention for common mental health problems: exploring catalysts for change” Medical Humanities 2012 38 15 20

Fischer-KernM.FonagyP.KapustaN. D.LuytenP.BossS.NadererA.BlümlV.LeithnerK. Mentalizing in female inpatients with major depressive disorder Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 2012 201 202 207

FongK.MarR. A. HakemulderF. Exposure to narrative fiction versus expository nonfiction: Diverging social and cognitive outcomes De stralende lezer; wetenschappelijk onderzoek naar de invloed van het lezen [The radiant reader; scientific research concerning the influence of reading] 2011 Delft Eburon Academic 55 68

FrithC. D.FrithU. Mechanisms of Social Cognition Annual Review of Psychology 2012 63 287 313

FusaroliR.Raczaszek-LeonardiJ.TylénK. Dialogue as interpersonal synergy New Ideas in Psychology 2014a 32 147 157

FusaroliR.KonvalikaI.WallotS. Analyzing Social Interactions: The promises and challenges of using Cross Recurrence Quantification Analysis Springer Proceedings in Mathematics and Statistics 2014b in press

HuttoD.GallagherS. Understanding others through primary interaction and narrative practice Converging Evidence in Language and Communication Research 2008 12 17 38

JohnsonD. R. Transportation into a story increases empathy, prosocial behavior, and perceptual bias toward fearful expressions Personality and Individual Differences 2011 52 150 155

KiddD. C.CastanoE. Reading literary fiction improves theory of mind Science 2013 342 377 380

KonvalinkaIXygalatasD.BulbuliaJ.SchjødtU.JegindøE.-M.WallotS.Van OrdenG.RoepstorffA. Synchronized arousal between performers and related spectators in a fire-walking ritual Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2011 108 8514 8519

KuikenD.PhillipsL.GregusM.MiallD. S.VerbitskyM.TonkonogyA. Locating self-modifying feelings within literary reading Discourse Processes 2004 38 267 286

LadegaardN.LarsenE. R.VidebechP.LysakerP. H. Higher-order social cognition in first-episode major depression Psychiatry Research 2014 216 37 43

MarR. A.OatleyK.HirshJ.de la PazJ.PetersonJ. B. Bookworms versus nerds: Exposure to fiction versus non-fiction, divergent associations with social ability, and the simulation of fictional social worlds Journal of Research in Personality 2006 40 694 712

MarR. A.OatleyK. The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience Perspectives on Psychological Science 2008 13 173 192

MarshK. L.RichardsonM. J.SchmidtR. C. Social Connection Through Joint Action and Interpersonal Coordination Topics in Cognitive Science 2009 1 320 339

SikoraS.KuikenD.MiallD. S. Expressive reading: a phenomenological study of readers’ experience of Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner Psychology of Aesthetics Creativity and the Arts 2011 5 258 268

SteenbergM. McKechnieL. E. F.OterholmK.RothbauerP. M.SkjerdingstadK. I. Literary reading as a technology of the mind: An exploratory study on social forms of reading Plotting the Reading Experience: Theory/Practice/Politics 2014 Waterloo ON Wilfrid Laurier University Press in press

ThomassonN.WebberC.ZbilutJ. Application of recurrence quantification analysis to EEG signals International Journal of Computers and their Applications 2002 9 9 14

VickhoffB.MalmgrenH.ÅströmR.NybergG.EkströmS. R.EngwallM.SnyggJ.NilssonM.JörnstenR. Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers Frontiers in Psychology 2013 4 doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00334.

WiltermuthS. S.HeathC. Synchrony and cooperation Psychological Science 2009 20 1 5

ZunshineL. Why we read fiction. Theory of Mind and the Novel 2006 Kent, OH Ohio State University Press


  • View in gallery
    Panels A–D show the values of self-reported motivation (A), interest (B), experience (C), and relatedness to the text (D) for the four reading group sessions. The bottom panel (E) shows the level of heart-rate synchrony among participants for the four reading group sessions. Heart rate synchrony seems to be closely related to feelings of relatedness, showing an inverse pattern to relatedness across the sessions: The more participants reported feelings of relatedness to the text, the lower the level of heart rate synchrony seemed to be (compare panels D and E).
  • View in gallery
    Panels A and B display the Recurrence Plots (rps) for the reading group’s heart rate for the first 15 minutes during the 2nd session (A) and the 4th session (B) Black structures on the prs indicate periods of high heart-rate synchrony, while white spaces indicate the absence of synchrony. When comparing (A) and (B), one can see that heart rate synchrony seems overall more structured in terms of the different phases of the reading group sessions (e.g., reading, discussion, etc.) during the 2nd session, while heart-rate activity is much more homogenous in the 4th session.

Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 68 68 51
Full Text Views 9 9 9
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0