Fiction for Good Living

For a long time literary critics and philosophers have argued, along with the novelist George Eliot, that one of fiction’s main jobs is to “enlarge men’s sympathies.” Recent lab work suggests they are right. The psychologists Mar and Keith Oatley tested the idea that entering fiction’s simulated social worlds enhances our ability to connect with actual human beings. They found that heavy fiction readers outperformed heavy nonfiction readers on tests of empathy, even after they controlled for the possibility that people who already had high empathy might naturally gravitate to fiction. As Oatley puts it, fiction serves the function of “making the world a better place by improving interpersonal understanding.”

via Why fiction is good for you – Page 3 – Boston.com.

Research further goes on to show that fiction raises people’s awareness of common human values that promote social well-being like friendship and helping one another.

Chalk up another one for book lovers everywhere.

Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

Tagged with:
Posted in Interesting, Literary
7 comments on “Fiction for Good Living
  1. doctordi says:

    I never doubted it!! I’m kidding, but those findings make perfect sense to me.

  2. Fascinating! Thanks for writing about this, Lilian.

  3. I wonder if Conservatives in a democracy and Totalitarian regimes both know this and de-fang writing by different means. Conservatives dismiss, demean and de-fund literature. Totalitarian governments suppress it through censorship (and imprisoning writers) and promote stories for their propaganda value.

  4. litlove says:

    I do wish we didn’t have to need scientific proof of things that are so blatantly obvious. Just goes to show how incredibly science-oriented our culture has become. Sigh. But as you say above,perhaps this ‘proof’ is what’s needed for an argument that can’t be contested.

  5. Pete says:

    I agree that it’s a bit sad that we need proof that fiction is good for us. But we do live in a science-dominated world and I’ll be interested to see the science on this. Love the new look of the blog by the way.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

MY NEW BOOK!

Click on the cover!

Follow Lilian Nattel's Old Blog on WordPress.com
Goodreads
Progressive Bloggers
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 195 other followers

%d bloggers like this: