Thursday, December 2, 2010

Narrative studies in psychology of discourse

In recent decades an interesting cross-disciplinary meeting is taking place between cognitive psychology and especially discourse psychology

What is Discourse Psychology?
To begin with, discourse psychology IS NOT Discursive psychology. Discourse psychology is a field of study in which the linguistics discipline of discourse analysis and cognitive psychology meet. During the 70's cognitive psychology's interest in understanding and memory was extended to an interest in the processing and understanding of texts, which borrowed tools, methods and theory form discourse analysis, and this eventually led to an interest is stories, which is the realm of narratology.

Discourse psychology is engaged with question such as the comprehension of texts or oral discourses. Inferences are one of the central points of interest for discourse psychology, being everything that requires thought and processing beyond what is given in a text or oral discourse. For example, hypotheses formed in the course of reading are required in order to make sense of an ongoing, uncompleted process, while evaluation is needed to sum up a story's meaning in retrospect. Filling in information gaps that are an essential part of every text is a cognitive function, and that is what discourse psychology is interested in.

The field of discourse psychology is, like cognitive psychology, very much interested in memory, and memory is understood in relation to cognitive schemata or scripts which represents generic knowledge of the world that enables us to fit in every new event of piece of information into known schemes. A scheme, for instance, is what allows us the omit details from a description, story or account and still be understood. In literature or cinema, for instance, a genre is a type of schema that helps us understand what's going on based on certain expectations we have that arise from our knowledge of the genre.

 The difference between discursive psychology and discourse psychology is that discursive psychology is engaged with how psychological features are manifested in discourse, and the way they facilitate its reception and understanding by the human psyche. 

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