Many computational models of narrative include representations of possible worlds—events that never actually occur in the story but that are planned or perceived by the story’s characters. Psychological tools such as QUEST are often used to validate computational models of narrative, but they only represent events which are explicitly narrated in the story. In this paper, we demonstrate that audiences can and do reason about other possible worlds when experiencing a narrative, and that the Quest knowledge structures for each possible world can be treated as a single data structure. Participants read a short text story and were asked hypothetical questions that prompted them to consider alternative endings. When asked about events that needed to change as a result of the hypothetical, they produced answers that were consistent with answers generated by QUEST from a different version of the story. When asked about unrelated events, their answers matched those generated by QUEST from the version of the story they read.
Rachelyn Farrell, Scott Robertson, Stephen G. Ware. Asking hypothetical questions about stories using QUEST. In Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Interactive Digital Storytelling, pp. 136-146, 2016.