Type of Study
The correlation between society and individual has always remained a prosperous field for psychological research. As for the main reasons for this fact, Rosenmann, Reese, and Cameron state that “social groups are an essential feature of human life”. Hence, the value of the groups allows researchers to constitute new theories based on experiments and observations. The study of Gabriel and Young “Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective-Assimilation Hypothesis” poses as a throughout research of such a kind. It contemplates the assimilation of collective narratives by individuals, and through the experiment with fictional groups from the books, it tries to prove several hypotheses about group affiliations.
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In the introduction, the article mentions how valuable partaking in a collective could become for a person, to realize themselves. By using previous studies as a background, the scientists present the “narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis”. According to it, individuals can easily consume collective narratives and quickly associate themselves with the groups described within. The following thoughts include several derived hypothesizes about the ability of such affiliation to increase social skills, merge with the narrative’s characters, and cope with loneliness. To prove both the hypothesis and the resulting assumptions, the authors utilize the data collected from statistical research. The information came from people asked to read several passages from the Twilight and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone books.
The study is correlational, both by the researchers’ implications and the meaning of this model. According to Asamoah, the correlational study includes the explanation of a phenomenon by analyzing collected and processed statistical data. The method of the stated research or testing the hypothesis falls under this category. After all, the research analyses the information from the tests and measures conducted with the chosen social group with a single purpose. The specific goal is to prove the validity of the hypothesis and its derivatives. At the same time, the paper itself mentions the use of previous correlational studies in the same field (Gabriel & Young, 2011). Thus, both the terminology and the application of prior surveys as sources determine the category of the paper.
There are several groups of independent and dependent variables which play a significant role in the study’s discourse. Three of them exactly belong to the dependent type since the researchers emphasize them. Notably, they are stated as the scores from Implicit Association Test (IAT), Twilight/Harry Potter Narrative Collective-Assimilation Scale, Transportation Scale and several others (level of story absorption, and that of life satisfaction). As for the independent variables, the authors explicitly mention them as well, though under the alternate term “predictor variables” (Gabriel & Young, 2011, p. 992). Per the authors, they consist of book reading, collective self-construal, and the interaction between them.
Regarding the method which the authors applied, they chose a random sample of young undergraduates from the University of Buffalo. These youngsters had been able to complete several specific psychological tests on collective identities. However, the assignment to them was not random but a concrete one – to complete a series of new tests, measures, and questions after reading the excerpts from Twilight and Harry Potter. Hence, their following tasks throughout the study included the said activities. Although there is no mention of the data collection way, one can assume that it happened in person or online since the participants’ tasks are fitting for these forms.
Summary of Findings
The mentioned dependent variables from the test, after processing, allowed the researchers to reach several findings. Firstly, the reading activity showed the high rate of participants’ self-identification with wizards from Harry Potter and vampires from Twilight. Secondly, the analysis of the IAT test confirmed the significant level of interaction between Collective Self-Construal and Book Read. Thirdly, the rate of the identification with the fictional groups was once again supported by the regression of Twilight/Harry Potter Narrative Collective-Assimilation Scale. Finally, the tests on life satisfaction and mood pointed in the direction of increase. Hence, all these findings confirmed the hypothesis of Narrative-Collective assimilation in real life. Also, their enhancement of life satisfaction and the positive mood became certain too.
Also, in the “Discussion” section, the authors accentuated the implications of the article in general. Specifically, they mention that the research serves as an extension of previous ones and demonstrates the value of surrogates for social connections. Moreover, the social needs and the submergence in fiction, according to Gabriel and Young should not be underestimated as well. That way, the scientists summarize the implications of their study both for social science, psychology, literature, and other fields.
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Validity and Reliability of the Study
Before assessing the characteristics of validity and reliability of the study, one must mention the term themselves, to apply them for the reviewed research. According to Heale and Twycross, validity refers to the accuracy of measurement in a qualitative study, while reliability means the consistency of the results and the ability to replicate them. Regarding the first feature, the research under the question proves its valid results by the fact that the scientists used homogenous instruments of testing. After all of them should unveil the rate of affiliation with the studied groups. If one takes the reliability feature, all the result rates are pointed in one direction of confirming the set hypothesis. Moreover, since the study used a random group and specific tests, it is possible to replicate the measures as well. Hence, one can conclude that both the validity and reliability of the research outcome appear trustworthy enough.
Although the variety of the test results conducted by the author is considerably wide, most of them explore the authors’ topic of collective narrative influence. Hence, the consistency of the applied methods leaves little to no room for alternate interpretations of their results. Most of them, per the research, prove the initial hypothesis and support the assumption of its connection to life satisfaction and mood improvement.
Nonetheless, several new interpretations appear as possible complementation of the research confirmations. For instance, one can assume that the fictional books with fantasy elements, due to their popularity among teens, may be able to make them more satisfied with life. Moreover, the enhanced mood has a connection to their amazement when they notice the difference between these books and standard fiction. However, the mentioned assumptions do not contradict the conclusion on collective associations which the study attempts to confirm.
Notably, the article mostly omits the ethical side of the conducted research. The authors only mention that the purpose of the study told to participants was the examination of responses to literature (Gabriel, & Young, 2011). Therefore, informed consent seems to be applied timely and adequately. However, as Marshall and Rossman put it, the ethical considerations of qualitative studies do not only include the informed consent but the emotional dilemmas as well. One may assume that authors could have emotionally engaged in the researched topics, which could have influenced their conclusions. The validity and reliability point otherwise, although the authors should have included the ethical consideration section to make sure that all methodical questions are addressed.
The scientists are rather one-directional regarding the possibilities of following discoveries. As mentioned by the researchers, they continued the previous studies on narratives and social needs, as well as the books’ influences on social life (Gabriel, & Young, 2011). Hence, the described direction of books’ link to the collective bonds seems to be the most appropriate for further examination. For instance, one can elaborate on the topic of the classic literature honing social skills of people through empirical and emotional data contained in the plot. The reviewed study already poses a considerable proof of fiction’s ability to change the individual perception of society and its groups. Moreover, its emphasis on affiliation with collectives may offer an opportunity for understanding the books’ influence on social life throughout history.
While the authors themselves profoundly summarized most of the implications, there are several elements they left unmentioned. Firstly, the study shows the impressive extent of the literature influencing real-life social conditions. The purpose of the author was to make a statement that books can change the social associations of a person. However, the study demonstrates a subtle mechanism of fictional phenomenon changing the mindset of a person. Secondly, these changes may appear as positive or negative, though the study chooses to focus on the bright side. It still might serve for proving that the avoidance of reality through the books can affect the actual behavior of a person. Furthermore, this influence may pose a danger to the social roles of such people. Thus, both the rate of literature influence and the possible negative sides appear as probable implications of the results as well.
The article of Gabriel and Young about the narrative collective associations utilizes the statistical data to prove the set hypothesis and the additional questions. Specifically, the researchers attempt to support the assumption about collective narrative influencing the social connections of a person using the fiction reading. The correlational study applied the survey on the random group of undergraduates who undergo a series of tests and questions after reading the abstracts from the Twilight and Harry Potter books. Hence, the testing part provided with the dependent variables, while the reading part consisted of independent ones. The assignments were exact, while one might assume the data collecting method as by person or online.
The results demonstrated that the participants associated themselves more with the fictional groups from the books’ abstracts after reading these, especially by the tests. Moreover, their life satisfaction and positive mood increased as well. The mentioned outcome allowed the authors to prove their hypothesis on narrative influence. Also, the study emphasized the implications of these results for understanding the role of narratives, social surrogates, and the impact of literature on individuals.
Asamoah, M. K. (2014). Re-examination of the limitations associated with correlational research. Journal of Educational Research and Reviews, 2(4), 45-52.
Gabriel, S., & Young, A. F. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science, 22(8), 990-994.
Heale, R., & Twycross, A. (2015). Validity and reliability in quantitative studies. Evidence Based Nursing, 18(3), 66-67.
Marshall, C., & Rossman, G. B. (2014). Designing Qualitative Research. Thousand Oakes, CA: SAGE Publications.
Rosenmann, A., Reese, G., & Cameron, J. E. (2016). Social identities in a globalized world. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(2), 202-221.