Published On: Wed, Oct 19th, 2016

Social ability may not improve by reading literature



A new research study contradicts to the previous one by saying that reading literary fiction cannot perk up a person’s social abilities. A previous research in 2013 found that reading literary fiction for almost 20 minutes could improve a person’s social capabilities.

Nevertheless, when researchers attempted to replicate the results employing the original research study materials and methodology, the findings did not hold up.

Deena Weisberg, from the University of Pennsylvania in the US, as stated that “Reading a short piece of literary fiction does not seem to boost theory of mind” Deena referred to the idea that expresses a person’s capability to recognize the mental conditions of others. She told that “Literary fiction did not do any better than popular fiction, expository non-fiction and not any better than reading nothing at all,”

At first, Weisberg and Thalia Goldstein from Pace University in the US desired to replicate the original research, organized at the New School for Social Research, to further understand how this least involvement and a particular storytelling type alone could effect in this reaction.

They employed the stories and materials from the original work, using the similar measures and plan, involving a theory of mind measure titled the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) in the anticipations of depicting the similar finding.

They worked nearly with New School researchers to make sure correctness. Findings of the study stated that they began speaking with other institutions, learning that Boston College and University of Oklahoma scientists had attempted and failed to replicate these results as well.

This specific result not just shines a light on issues with the findings drawn in one research study but as well strengthens a broader subject with which the field has been struggling. Weisberg does not reduce the idea that experience to fiction can absolutely affect a person’s social cognition.

Actually, she and her colleagues as well administered the Author Recognition Test, which evaluates lifetime experience to all genres of fiction from a list of 130 names a few actual authors, a few foils members were said to choose all actual writers they knew with confidence.

They were penalized for presuming and for erroneous answers. The researchers then examined for associations amid this measure and social cognition, again employing the RMET, which presents a picture of eyes and says members to opt the best account of the emotion the eyes express.

In this case, they observed a powerful connection, the many author’s participants identified, the better they scored on the social cognition measure.

Weisberg further told “One brief exposure to fiction won’t have an effect, but perhaps a protracted engagement with fictional stories such that you boost your skills can have,”

She further added “It is also possible the causality is the other way around. It could be people who are already good at a theory of mind read a lot,” The new study was presented in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.


About the Author

Sidra Muntaha

- Sidra Tul Muntaha is a journalist (MA-Mass Communication and M.Phil in Mass Communication) based in Lahore. She is working as an editor at fashion, style and entertainment in the section of the Kooza. She writes fashion and entertainment articles for The Kooza News.

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