chapter  12
22 Pages

Toward a Psychological Theory of Suspense

WithPeter Vorderer

This volume contains several analyses of suspense written from various perspec­ tives, from numerous theoretical and methodological positions. The general goal-as emphasized in the introduction-is to somehow “encircle” the problem and thus achieve a conceptualization of suspense that would be as comprehensive as possible. Some authors gathered here present and discuss hypotheses based on an empirical, social-scientific approach, whereas others use philosophical, film-theoretical or semiotic theories. My aim is to formulate a psychological conceptualization, a description and explanation of suspense as a reception phe­ nomenon. Of course, such a psychological conceptualization cannot and should not be attempted without recognizing the results of those works that primarily analyze the (suspense) text itself. However, I focus on the understanding and processing of texts, on the viewers’ or readers’ prerequisites of this processing, and on the effects this has on them.