Reading literary (but not pop) fiction, boosts our understanding of other people's minds

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posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 05:35 AM
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According to a recent study covered by the British Psychological Society

article can be found here


"Readers of literary fiction must draw on more flexible interpretative resources to infer the feelings and thoughts of characters," said the researchers David Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the New School for Social Research. "That is, they must engage Theory of Mind processes [ToM refers to our ability to represent and understand other people's thoughts and feelings]."



The researchers' belief is that the active ingredient of literary fiction is the way such books "engage their readers creatively as writers ... The absence of a single authorial perspective prompts readers to enter a vibrant discourse with the author and her characters." However, they conceded that their findings "are only preliminary and much research is needed."


Personally I find this massively interesting, as it made me rethink my own choice of word food and how that may relate to my understanding of others. As someone who reads predominantly non-fiction it's encouraged me to nourish my mind in other ways with literary works.

Also, if pop fiction is not having the same effects and the article alludes to the reading of pop fiction as a more passive process, rather than creatively engaging, what effect does this have on the minds at large who're regularly consuming these works? Another entertainment system to numb the mind?


Nonetheless, if replicated and elucidated in further research, there could be important educational and cultural implications to arise from these new findings, especially at a time when many policy-makers are calling for less emphasis on fiction in secondary education. For now however we're a long way from knowing exactly what aspects of Theory of Mind benefit from reading literary fiction and why. It's also not yet established how long the benefits last, and whether the effects of reading short passages (as in this study) is any different from the experience of reading an entire novel.




posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 06:19 AM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


And what, precisely is meant by pop fiction? I read crime thrillers, espionage, science fiction (the hard stuff, and the crazy stuff) fantasy, comedy, and a whole plethora of hybrids of these various genres. Surely pop merely means that it was popular, or said another way, an awful lot of people bought it.

Does Arthur C Clarke's entire output count as pop fiction, simply because it his work is some of the best regarded science fiction ever scribed? If it does, then I am afraid these fellows have gotten their wires a little crossed!



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 07:05 AM
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reply to post by melancholiflower
 


I said thia years ago. Ibwrotw to my favorite author in an email and told him how I relates ao much to him and how I thought writing/reas ing was the closeat we could get to knowing anothera consciousness. He reaponded with a signed amd customized novella he wrote like 30 yeara ago and juat released recently.



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 08:32 AM
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reply to post by TrueBrit
 


well the article names "Danielle Steele, Rosamunde Pilcher and Gillian Flynn." as some of the pop fiction authors.

from what I can gather I think its the intended writing style not how popular it has become. Steele, Cookson , and I'd take a guess at Martina Cole and Ian Rankin writing with a view to sell - much like the writing version of pop music.

I think the difference lays in pop works being written to be immediately relatable, and somewhat superficial - thus its quite passive to read. whereas literary works engage the reader more by providing a more creative account of characters.



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 11:41 AM
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I can see that. I have read everything that tickles my fancy.. from one genre to another. The one I keep returning to is Chuck Palahniuk. Holy cow.. that guy needs to get out of my head and stop stealing my thoughts. I knew I was in deep obsessive intellectual love with the guy when I first heard him say :" Maybe humans are just the pet alligators that God flushed down the toilet."
You want to know my deepest inner child hidden psyche.. read Chuck. He has been stealing my thoughts for decades...





posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 04:00 PM
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reply to post by Advantage
 


Oh man, wondered through the walls of Palahniuk in Fight Club. Some seriously good #. Though I kicked myself for seeing the film first. Couldn't get into Rant though, and Snuff's lying in wait somewhere. Just reading Contortionist Handbook by a guy called Craig Clevenger, was in Palahniuks recommendations, and we're getting on pretty well
also Alex Garland's The Beach is probably one of my all time favs.



posted on Oct, 6 2013 @ 04:18 PM
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melancholiflower
reply to post by Advantage
 


Oh man, wondered through the walls of Palahniuk in Fight Club. Some seriously good #. Though I kicked myself for seeing the film first. Couldn't get into Rant though, and Snuff's lying in wait somewhere. Just reading Contortionist Handbook by a guy called Craig Clevenger, was in Palahniuks recommendations, and we're getting on pretty well
also Alex Garland's The Beach is probably one of my all time favs.



HAHA!! Snuff is fantastic! You gotta be in a Chuck sorta mood to get it...



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