Add to My MSN

Reading Fiction Connects Us to Others

3/27/2009 4:49:03 PM

Tags: Great Writing, Reported Writing, fiction, empathy, social connection, Greater Good

GreaterGoodWinter09An activity as solitary as reading a work of fiction may actually help us become better at connecting with others, writes psychologist and novelist Keith Oatley in Greater Good.

Oatley says fiction is about “possible selves in possible worlds,” and can aid interpersonal skills in two ways: by helping readers develop “theory of mind”—imagining what others are thinking and feeling—as well as showing how people interact with one another.

Readers of fiction were found to have higher social ability than those who preferred non-fiction. The reason?

“Fiction is principally about the difficulties of selves navigating the social world. Non-fiction is about, well, whatever it is about: selfish genes, or how to make Mediterranean food, or whether climate changes will harm our planet. So with fiction we tend to become more expert at empathizing and socializing. By contrast, readers of non-fiction are likely to become more expert at genetics, or cookery, or environmental studies, or whatever they spend their time reading and thinking about.”

Source: Greater Good Magazine



Related Content

Big Brother Is Watching: Orwell's Diaries to Be Published as Blog

Beginning in early August, George Orwell’s diary will be published as a blog. Each entry will appear...

Raising Kids is Like Living in a Frat House

 Parenthood summed up in two hilarious sentences....

Give and Feel Good

For most, long-term benefits outweigh the short-term cost of giving

The Forgotten Perks of Reading Fiction

Allowing yourself to become totally engrossed in literature has many psychological benefits. It’s ti...

Content Tools




Post a comment below.

 

Donald R. Anderson
4/2/2009 2:00:39 PM
This seems very true now that it's been put into words.



Pay Now & Save $5!
First Name: *
Last Name: *
Address: *
City: *
State/Province: *
Zip/Postal Code:*
Country:
Email:*
(* indicates a required item)
Canadian subs: 1 year, (includes postage & GST). Foreign subs: 1 year, . U.S. funds.
Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
Non US and Canadian Subscribers - Click Here

Want to gain a fresh perspective? Read stories that matter? Feel optimistic about the future? It's all here! Utne Reader offers provocative writing from diverse perspectives, insightful analysis of art and media, down-to-earth news and in-depth coverage of eye-opening issues that affect your life.

Save Even More Money By Paying NOW!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You save an additional $5 and get 4 issues of Utne Reader for only $31.00 (USA only).

Or Bill Me Later and pay just $36 for 4 issues of Utne Reader!