Have you ever had the experience of being so caught up in the story you were reading, that you forgot the world around you and your troubles, and did not notice the time passing? Have you ever felt more present in the world of the story you were reading, than in the armchair in which you were reading the story at that time? Have you ever felt absorbed by a captivatingly good story, immersed in a characters’ emotional turmoil, transported to a beautiful fictional world?

Then you know exactly what my research is about: I investigate absorbing reading experiences. The field of absorption research lies at the center of a couple of overlapping research areas: literary studies, media psychology, empirical aesthetics and even neuropsychological and neuro-cognitive studies. I prefer to call my particular research nook empirical literary studies. 

At the moment I am a Postdoc fellow at the Digital Humanities Lab of the University of Basel in Switzerland and my research on absorption is going in a couple of different directions:

  • Investigating how people in online reader reviews describe their absorbing reading experiences. Do they use language that is similar to how we describe and try to capture absorption in our measuring instruments we use in lab contexts? And teaching a machine learning algorithm to automatically detect absorption in online reader reviews  based on a manually annotated corpus of reviews using the Story World Absorption Scale.
  • Investigating the eye movement signature of absorbed reading and how we can link eye movements to text features in a meaningful way.
  • Psychometric work to validate the Story World Absorption Scale in different languages and against various related constructs, such as the Absorption-like States Questionnaire and the Transformative Reading Inventory.
  • Developing and testing a new reading habits questionnaire that combines measures of reading frequency with genre preference.