The Sympathetic Plot, Its Psychological Origins, and Implications for the Evolution of Fiction

  title={The Sympathetic Plot, Its Psychological Origins, and Implications for the Evolution of Fiction},
  author={Manvir Singh},
  journal={Emotion Review},
  pages={183 - 198}
The sympathetic plot—featuring a goal-directed protagonist who confronts obstacles, overcomes them, and wins rewards—is ubiquitous. Here, I propose that it recurs because it entertains, engaging two sets of psychological mechanisms. First, it triggers mechanisms for learning about obstacles and how to overcome them. It builds interest by confronting a protagonist with a problem and induces satisfaction when the problem is solved. Second, it evokes sympathetic joy. It establishes the protagonist… 

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