Sabine Albers

Ignored by literary science, loathed by critics and loved by readers – bestselling novels seem to evoke powerful emotions. But what exactly is it that makes a bestseller a bestseller? Which elements of social cognition lead to a novel becoming one? Does there perhaps exist a schema that a bestseller activates – and that therefore causes people to buy the book? If this is the case it should be possible to discover the prototypical attributes which constitute that schema. This project investigates the hypothesis that identification plays a key role in that respect; that there is a connection between the potential for identification a novel possesses and its selling numbers. The more a reader can identify with the protagonist of a novel the better it sells. The aim was to develop a method to measure the potential of identification and then compare it to the selling numbers of each novel. This paper discusses the methods of measurement developed and how they were applied in an experiment to test the above-mentioned hypothesis.