Fiction as an empathy workout. What makes bookworms such bleeding hearts? A new study led by P. Matthijs Bal of VU University in the Netherlands finds that readers who emotionally immerse themselves with written fiction for weeklong periods can help boost their empathetic skills.
The researchers discovered this by having university students read either fiction by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and José Saramago or items from a newspaper. Gauging the participants' empathetic abilities and self-reported emotions before and after such reading sessions, they found that the fiction readers got more of an emotional workout than the nonfiction readers. And they became noticeably more empathetic after a week of such experiments.
Via Edwin Rutsch