What about expository text?

Robert F. Lorch

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

16 Scopus citations


There is a long history of research on text processing in psychology, but developments in the 1970s gave the field theoretical focus and momentum. Kintsch and van Dijk (1978) provided the first comprehensive theory of how readers construct a representation from a text as they read. Their theory was extremely influential for several reasons: It provided a clear statement of the nature of the representation of text content, along with a procedure for deriving such a representation for a text. It proposed a process model to explain how readers build a mental representation as they read, and it linked the hypothesized processes to readers' abilities to remember text content. Importantly, the process model was firmly founded on well-established cognitive constructs (e.g., a limited-capacity working memory). Interestingly, the text materials used to illustrate and test the principles of the theory were predominantly examples of expository text. Before long, however, text researchers narrowed their attention to the representation and processing of narrative texts. The focus on narrative came about in large part because of the work of Trabasso and his colleagues (Trabasso, Secco, and van den Broek, 1984). This work gave a definition of causality and an objective procedure for analyzing causal relations among events in narrative. Subsequent empirical work (Trabasso and van den Broek, 1985; Trabasso, van den Broek and Suh, 1989) provided convincing demonstrations of the validity of the proposed causal network representations of narrative. As attention turned from explaining memory for text to researching the online processing underlying text comprehension, causal network analyses were useful in specifying connections (i.e., inferences) that readers should identify in order to construct a causally coherent representation of the events in a narrative. Because researchers had a reasonably good understanding of what it meant to comprehend narrative, narratives provided a tractable domain in which to study the online processes underlying comprehension. It soon became apparent that inferential processes played a central role in text comprehension.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWriting Religion
Subtitle of host publicationThe Case for the Critical Study of Religions
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781107279186
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology (all)


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