2013-12-02

Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind skills

10.5: news.psy/affective and cognitive Theory of Mind
sharpened by non-entertainment:
mail@openculture.com
date: Sat, Oct 5, 2013 at 5:07 AM
subject: Study Finds That
Reading Tolstoy & Other Great Novelists
Can Increase Your Emotional Intelligence
. see top 10 free books;
part of 500 free books list .
. sciencemag.org:
Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind
Understanding others’ mental states is a crucial skill
that enables the complex social relationships
that characterize human societies.
Yet little research has investigated what fosters this skill,
which is known as Theory of Mind (ToM), in adults.
We present five experiments showing that
reading literary fiction led to
better performance on tests of
affective and cognitive ToM
compared with reading nonfiction,
popular fiction, or nothing at all .
Specifically, these results show that
reading literary fiction temporarily enhances ToM.
More broadly, they suggest that ToM may be influenced by
engagement with works of art.
ny times:
 . a study published Thursday in the journal Science.
 found that after reading literary fiction,
 as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction,
 people performed better on tests measuring
 empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence
 — skills for reading someone’s body language
 or gauging what they might be thinking .
To find [those not exposed to art already
they look beyond college students:]
they used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk service,
where people sign up to earn money
for completing small jobs.
People ranging in age from 18 to 75
were recruited for each of five experiments.
They were paid $2 or $3 each to read for a few minutes..

Some were given excerpts from award-winning literary fiction
 (Don DeLillo, Wendell Berry). Dostoyevsky .
Literary fiction readers also scored
better than nonfiction readers
— and popular fiction readers made as many mistakes
as people who read nothing.
. subjects said they did not enjoy literary fiction
as much as other reading tasks .