Do you want to understand the minds of others?

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If so, then read a book –   but make sure it’s a good one.

Researchers at the New School for Social Research in New York have conducted a series of experiments, which they believe prove that, “reading literary fiction enhances the ability to detect and understand other people’s emotions.”

The experiments involved 1,000 people who read an extract of either popular fiction or literary fiction. The participants’ ‘theory of mind’ scores were then calculated, and the scores were found to be consistently higher for those who had read the literary fiction. According to the psychologists who led this research, David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, this result is thought to be because great writers “turn you into the writer… the incompleteness of the characters turns  your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.” It is the ‘writerly’ writers that create this effect, rather than the ‘readerly’ writers, who are more likely to produce adventure novels, romance and thrillers.

For the full report of this research in The Guardian see

http://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2013/oct/08/literary-fiction-improves-empathy-study

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