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      Historical experiences: A framework for encountering complex historical sources

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          We encounter information about the past in everyday life through films, books and complex historical sources – such as historic sites or eyewitness accounts. Investigations of how visitors and learners engage with these complex historical sources have mainly focused on the ‘something special’ of the encounter on the one hand and on the clear cognitive engagement on the other. Yet, we know little about what and how learners and visitors learn from these complex historical sources and the resultant historical experiences. However, it is an important precondition for further theoretical and empirical research to fully understand these experiences. This article takes the first step in building an integrated model to understand from a situated embodied perspective the historical experiences derived from encounters with complex historical sources. Drawing on German- and English-language literature across related disciplines, we conceptualized the experience within an interplay of cognitive, affective and physical engagement. Within these dimensions, we identified responses that indicate the different elements of the historical experience and discuss limitations and avenues for further research.

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          Construal-level theory of psychological distance.

          People are capable of thinking about the future, the past, remote locations, another person's perspective, and counterfactual alternatives. Without denying the uniqueness of each process, it is proposed that they constitute different forms of traversing psychological distance. Psychological distance is egocentric: Its reference point is the self in the here and now, and the different ways in which an object might be removed from that point-in time, in space, in social distance, and in hypotheticality-constitute different distance dimensions. Transcending the self in the here and now entails mental construal, and the farther removed an object is from direct experience, the higher (more abstract) the level of construal of that object. Supporting this analysis, research shows (a) that the various distances are cognitively related to each other, (b) that they similarly influence and are influenced by level of mental construal, and (c) that they similarly affect prediction, preference, and action. PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved.
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            The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives.

            Transportation was proposed as a mechanism whereby narratives can affect beliefs. Defined as absorption into a story, transportation entails imagery, affect, and attentional focus. A transportation scale was developed and validated. Experiment 1 (N = 97) demonstrated that extent of transportation augmented story-consistent beliefs and favorable evaluations of protagonists. Experiment 2 (N = 69) showed that highly transported readers found fewer false notes in a story than less-transported readers. Experiments 3 (N = 274) and 4 (N = 258) again replicated the effects of transportation on beliefs and evaluations; in the latter study, transportation was directly manipulated by using processing instructions. Reduced transportation led to reduced story-consistent beliefs and evaluations. The studies also showed that transportation and corresponding beliefs were generally unaffected by labeling a story as fact or as fiction.
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              Six views of embodied cognition.

              The emerging viewpoint of embodied cognition holds that cognitive processes are deeply rooted in the body's interactions with the world. This position actually houses a number of distinct claims, some of which are more controversial than others. This paper distinguishes and evaluates the following six claims: (1) cognition is situated; (2) cognition is time-pressured; (3) we off-load cognitive work onto the environment; (4) the environment is part of the cognitive system; (5) cognition is for action; (6) off-line cognition is body based. Of these, the first three and the fifth appear to be at least partially true, and their usefulness is best evaluated in terms of the range of their applicability. The fourth claim, I argue, is deeply problematic. The sixth claim has received the least attention in the literature on embodied cognition, but it may in fact be the best documented and most powerful of the six claims.

                Author and article information

                History Education Research Journal
                UCL Press (UK )
                20 October 2020
                : 17
                : 2
                : 243-275
                University of Tübingen, Germany
                Teachers College, Columbia University, USA
                University of Konstanz, Germany
                Author notes
                Corresponding author: Email: christine.baron@
                Copyright © 2020 Zachrich, Weller, Baron and Bertram

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Licence (CC BY) 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                References: 105, Pages: 34


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                History Education Research Journal
                Volume 17, Issue 2

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