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It is well established that readers form mental images when reading a narrative. However, the consequences of mental imagery (i.e., the influence of mental imagery on the way people experience stories) is still unclear. Here we manipulated the amount of mental imagery that participants engaged in while reading short literary stories in two experiments. Participants received pre-reading instructions aimed at encouraging or discouraging mental imagery. After reading, participants answered questions about their reading experiences. We also measured individual trait differences that have been found to be relevant for literary reading experiences. The results from the first experiment suggests an important role of mental imagery in determining reading experiences. However, the results from the second experiment show that mental imagery is only a weak predictor of reading experiences compared to individual trait differences in how imaginative participants were. Moreover, the influence of mental imagery instructions did not extend to aspects of the reading experience other than mental imagery.
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