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How reading fiction can improve your social life

How reading fiction can improve your social life

How reading fiction can improve your social life

Researchers have credited fiction reading with a range of positive real-world social effects.

Psychologist Raymond Mar and his colleagues have found that the more fiction people read the better they scored on tests that measure empathy. Research at the University of Sussex shows that reading is also the most effective way to overcome stress, beating out other methods like listening to music or taking a walk.

And according to a study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences those who read more have been found to show less characteristics of Alzheimer’s disease.

Recent research has also suggested that readers may make good citizens because fiction reading is associated with better social cognition. A paper by David Dodell-Feder and Diana Tamir in the November 2018 issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General concluded that reading fiction does appear to influence social ability because it serves to exercise the default subnetwork involved in theory of mind.

This means that reading fiction improves people’s capacity to understand and mentally react to other individuals and social situations. That when we focus on stepping into an imaginary person’s inner world, we’re improving our ability to do the same thing with real people because the same regions of the brain are at work when we’re thinking about other people and their points of view, regardless of whether those individuals happen to be real or fictional characters. 

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