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Psychol Sci. 2011 Aug;22(8):990-4. doi: 10.1177/0956797611415541. Epub 2011 Jul 12.

Becoming a vampire without being bitten: the narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis.

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Department of Psychology, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Park Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260, USA.


We propose the narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis--that experiencing a narrative leads one to psychologically become a part of the collective described within the narrative. In a test of this hypothesis, participants read passages from either a book about wizards (from the Harry Potter series) or a book about vampires (from the Twilight series). Both implicit and explicit measures revealed that participants who read about wizards psychologically became wizards, whereas those who read about vampires psychologically became vampires. The results also suggested that narrative collective assimilation is psychologically meaningful and relates to the basic human need for connection. Specifically, the tendency to fulfill belongingness needs through group affiliation moderated the extent to which narrative collective assimilation occurred, and narrative collective assimilation led to increases in life satisfaction and positive mood, two primary outcomes of belonging. The implications for the importance of narratives, the need to belong to groups, and social surrogacy are discussed.

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