People who read books are NICER says Kingston University


Having your nose in a book may seem anti-social at times, but reading could actually make you a kinder, more empathetic person, a study has found.

People who read fiction are more likely to act in a socially acceptable manner than people who are glued to the TV, according to the researchers. 

The team suggests that reading books allows people to see things from other people’s points of views, making them better at understanding others.

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Having your nose in a book may seem antisocial at times, but reading could actually make you a kinder, more empathetic person, a study has found (stock image)

Having your nose in a book may seem antisocial at times, but reading could actually make you a kinder, more empathetic person, a study has found (stock image)

Having your nose in a book may seem antisocial at times, but reading could actually make you a kinder, more empathetic person, a study has found (stock image)

THE STUDY

The researchers aked the participants about their preference for books, TV and plays.

Participants were also tested on their interpersonal skills.

This included how much they considered people’s feelings and whether they acted to help others.

Results showed that people who preferred reading fiction showed positive social behaviours, and were empathetic.

But those who preferred watching TV came across as less friendly and less understanding of others’ views.

Researchers from Kingston University looked at the effects of reading or watching television on different traits.

Participants were questioned on their preference for books, TV and plays.

They were then tested on their interpersonal skills, such as how much they considered people’s feelings and whether they acted to help others.

The results showed that people who preferred reading fiction showed positive social behaviours, and were empathetic.

But those who preferred watching TV came across as less friendly and less understanding of others’ views.

Speaking at a conference in Brighton, the researchers suggested this could be because reading books allows people to see things from other people’s points of view, which makes them better able to understand others. 

The findings follow a study last year which found that reading classic literature makes you better at recognising emotions.

Psychologists from the New School for Social Research in New York showed more than 2,000 people a list of 130 names and asked them to pick out just those that belonged to authors.

The results showed that people who preferred reading fiction showed positive social behaviours, and were empathetic. But those who preferred watching TV came across as less friendly and less understanding of others' views (stock image) 

The results showed that people who preferred reading fiction showed positive social behaviours, and were empathetic. But those who preferred watching TV came across as less friendly and less understanding of others' views (stock image) 

The results showed that people who preferred reading fiction showed positive social behaviours, and were empathetic. But those who preferred watching TV came across as less friendly and less understanding of others’ views (stock image) 

It was assumed that those who recognised writers such as Salman Rushdie, George Orwell, Kazuo Ishiguro and T.S. Eliot tended to read more literary fiction, while those who homed in on the likes of Dick Francis, Jackie Collins, Danielle Steele and Stephen King preferred lighter reads.

The volunteers were then shown pictures of an actor’s eyes and asked to name the emotion that was being expressed.

The more literary fiction authors the participants recognised, the better they were at this, the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts reports. 

The findings follow a study last year which found that reading classic literature makes you better at recognising emotions

The findings follow a study last year which found that reading classic literature makes you better at recognising emotions

The findings follow a study last year which found that reading classic literature makes you better at recognising emotions

The researchers, led by Dr David Kidd and Dr Emanuele Castano said that while popular novels tend to be formulaic, with ‘flat’ characters, literary fiction features more rounded, psychological interesting individuals, which readers have to work at to understand.

They said: ‘Just as in real life, the worlds of literary fiction are replete with complicated individuals whose inner lives are rarely discerned but warrant explanation.

‘Popular fiction, which is more reader friendly, tends to portray the world and characters as internally consistent and predictable.’ 

 

 

 



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