Optimal Eventfulness of Narratives

Authors Fritz Breithaupt, Eleanor Brower, Sarah Whaley

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Fritz Breithaupt
Eleanor Brower
Sarah Whaley

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Fritz Breithaupt, Eleanor Brower, and Sarah Whaley. Optimal Eventfulness of Narratives. In 6th Workshop on Computational Models of Narrative (CMN 2015). Open Access Series in Informatics (OASIcs), Volume 45, pp. 12-22, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2015)


This study examines whether there is an optimal degree of eventfulness of short narratives. We ask whether there is a specific degree of eventfulness (unexpectedness) that makes them "stick" better than other stories so that they are maintained more faithfully in serial reproduction (telephone games). The result is: probably not. The finding is that there is an impressive correlation of eventfulness rankings of original stories and resulting retellings in serial reproduction, despite the change of many other story elements and almost regardless of low or high eventfulness. Put more simply, people remember and retell “eventfulness” accurately, even when the actual events and circumstances of a story are changed.
  • Narrative
  • Event
  • Eventfulness
  • Event cognition; Serial reproduction; Linear and bounded iteration
  • Event memory


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