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An interesting new study claims that the book you read can make you more or less sensitive to the emotions of others.

The study claims those who read general fiction find it hard to read the emotions of others. However those who read literary fiction are easily able to read the feelings and emotions of those around them.

David Kidd and Emanuele Costano from The New School for Social Research asked 1,000 people to pick authors they recognised from a list of varied fiction, both literary and genre. They were then shown a photograph and asked to decipher the emotion on the subject’s face.

The result of the study was that readers of books by Harper Lee and Salman Rushdie had superior emotional sensitivity to those who read Clive Cussler and Danielle Steel.

David Kidd clarified his findings.
“This is not to say that reading popular genre fiction cannot be enjoyable or beneficial for other reasons – we suspect it is. Nor does the present evidence point towards a clear and consistent distinction between literary and popular genre fiction. Instead, it suggests that the broad distinction between relatively complex literary and relatively formulaic genre fiction can help us better understand how engaging with fiction affects how we think.”

The article discussed is Different Stories: How Levels of Familiarity With Literary and Genre Fiction Relate to Mentalising, Kidd, D, & Castano, E. (2016, August 8).

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