From the Washington Post:
Why literary novels are better for you than Danielle SteelWill Common Core take into account these findings? Common Core emphasizes reading more nonfiction and less fiction.
By Science News and Reuters, Published: October 7
Reading good literature may help you socially, psychologists suggest
Think of it as the bookworm’s bonus: People who read first-rate fiction become more socially literate, at least briefly, a new study suggests.
Researchers randomly assigned nearly 700 volunteers to read excerpts of “literary” novels by recent National Book Award finalists and other celebrated authors, to read parts of fiction bestsellers, including one by Danielle Steel, or popular nonfiction books, or to not read anything. Those who read literary works then scored highest on several tests of the ability to decipher others’ motives and emotions, say David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano, psychologists at the New School for Social Research in New York.
One test asked participants to describe the thoughts or feelings of one or two individuals shown surrounded by various items in a series of images, based on written and visual clues. In another test, participants tried to match emotion words to facial expressions shown for two seconds on a computer screen.
By prompting readers to ponder characters’ motives and emotions rather than just a fast-moving plot, literary fiction recruits mind-reading skills used in daily encounters, Kidd and Castano propose in the journal Science. The researchers don’t know whether regularly reading literary fiction yields mind-reading upgrades that would last.