Sunday, February 6, 2011

『推理小説の読解における推論 :愛読者・非愛読者の比較』

"A true gentleman leaves no puzzle unsolved!"
"Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box"

Related to the post of a week ago, I came across a nice (short!) paper by a master student at Tokyo Woman's Christian University yesterday, which seemed sort of interesting. The paper itself misses a real conclusion, but I like the set-up; namely a research in the 'deductive capabilities' of regular and non-regular readers of detective fiction. So quite relevant.

So I translated it.

I occasionally take a look at Japanese papers on detective literature anyway and as we can do either a bachelor thesis or a translation of (preferably) an academic paper here at the university, I had searched for appropiate papers, but alas, can't find good ones. All well, this one is fun anyway.

And it is always nice to know I am not the only one trying to use detective fiction with my academic papers. Detective movies, novels, manga. Only games left. And that is actually what I am doing now with my thesis. All bases covered! 
大塚友紀子「推理小説の読解における推論 :愛読者・非愛読者の比較」  『Annual convention of the Japanese Association of Educational Psychology』 43, 594

Otsuka Yukiko (2001) 'Suiri shosetsu no dokkai ni okeru suiron: aidokusha hiaidokusha no hikaku' (Reasonings within reading comprehension of detective novels: A comparison of regular and non-regular readers). Annual convention of the Japanese Association of Educational Psychology 43, 594

Reasonings within reading comprehension of detective novels
-A comparison of regular and non-regular readers-

Ootsuka Yuukiko
(Tokyo Woman's Christian University, Masters Program)


Within the field of text reading comprehension, it is known that prior knowledge of information related to the subject matter influences comprehension. In this research I have used detective novels as data and examined the influence of knowledge characteristic to this genre (legal medicine, or "messing up the crime scene is to make it look like a theft crime" et cetera). In concrete terms, I have examined this topic expecting that both the quantity and the quality of the reasonings made during reading of the regular readers with much knowledge, will surpass those of the non-regular readers with little knowledge.


After I asked the test group to read a text, a script form of the beginning of "The Casefiles of Young Kindaichi - The Mirror Labyrinth Murder*", I asked the group questions regarding its comprehension. The questions were divided in the following two groups:
- Reasoning questions which can be infered based soley on information in the text
- Reasoning questions which can not be infered based solely on information in the text

The test subjects were 60 female university students (tested seperately). After testing them for their experiences with the detective genre in daily life, a group of regular readers (21 persons) and a group of non-regular readers (15) were selected based on their score and the comparison was executed with these two groups.

Results and discussion

Quantitative analysis

(1) There was no difference noticable between the variety of the reasonings of the two groups.
(2) With the results based on points of the correctness of their reasonings, only with "reasoning questions which can not be infered based solely on information in the text." did the group of regular readers score significantly higher than the group of non-regular readers (F(1, 34) = 4,630, p < .05)

Qualitative analysis (see figure 1)

There were instances were non-regular readers were not able to reason from information not written in the text (i.e. N1). While it seems that even non-regular readers have genre-specific knowledge and use it for the reasonings, it seems that they did not examine the link with other data and deductions in the text or the consistency enough (i.e. N2, N3).

Concerning matters not written in the text, regular readers used their genre-specific knowledge, linked it to other facts and deductions written in the text and made reasonings while considering the coherence and consistency (i.e. E1, E2). Furthermore, regular readers did not simply apply their genre-specific knowledge to the text as is, but used it only as a possibilty for their reasonings. It seems that they were not fixated on reasonings based on their knowledge, but that they examined the coherence and consistency with facts in the text and other reasonings to come up with the most appropiate reasoning (i.e. E3).

Figure 1: Examples of answers of non-regular readers and regular readers to "Reasoning questions which can not be infered based solely on information in the text.".

N: Non-regular readers
E: Regular readers

Q1: What is the best murder method based on the crime scene and other things? And why?
N1: I don't know
[No reasonings have been made based on information not in the text]

N2: Strangulation. It would be hard to scream.
[The answer is short and the link with the facts in the text is not clear]

E1: Strangulation. With a method with a lot of blood loss, the time of murder can be determined from the congealment of blood. It would be best to make it seem like an impulsive crime as so the murder motive is not found. To make it seem like an impulsive crime, it is best to use something the victim carried, for example the cord of her handbag.

E2: Strangling. There was no account of traces of blood in the text, so a method with no blood loss. There was no account of a murder weapon in the text, so a method using bare hands.

Q2: Was the fact that the contents of the victim's bag were thrown out a coincidence or intentionally done by the murderer?

N3: Intentionally; to make it seem like theft
[The consistency with other facts in the text is not examined]

E3: Intentionally; to make it seem like theft -> But the criminal was trying to make it seem like a friend was guilty, so there was no need to make it seem like theft -> to make the buzzer, thrown there from outside the crime scene to set up an alibi trick, not seem out of place

*: 金田一少年の事件簿:鏡迷宮(ミラーラビリンス)の殺人 ("Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Miraa Rabirinsu no Satsujin), first published in Shuukan Shounen Magajin, 1998, double issue 22-23 and 24.

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