Refining Affective Disposition Theory: Towards a Theory of Narrative Equilibrium


This essay presents a preliminary theoretical development that attempts the importation of Heider’s Theory of Balance into the domain of narratology. Heider’s elemental POX structure offers ways to complement Affective Disposition Theory, opening the possibility for generating technical descriptions of easily recognizable but also subtle experiential aspects of the processing of narrative products. Traditional concepts like open-endings, focalization or identification will be productively revisited after considering the notions of narrative balance and narrative (affective/dynamic) imbalance. A network approach to affect distribution throughout the elements of a fictional world will allow us to isolate some specific effect-oriented authorial strategies. And finally, the study suggests that Heider’s notion of balance recovery through cognitive-affective reorganization might contribute to the understanding of typically elusive ethical and world-view transformation issues.

Keywords: Heider’s Theory of Balance, Affective Disposition Theory, affect, psychonarratology, sympathy

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