Wednesday, September 5, 2012

You Are What You Read

Here at Stellar Four, we already know the impact of reading a good book, but a new study released by Ohio State shows the impact of a good book on us!

Essentially, the study claims that "losing yourself" in a ficitional character can affect your real life. Basically, the more you read, the more you change your own behaviors to reflect the characters you read about. This is either madness or brilliance, I can't decide.

"Voting, you say? That gives me an idea..."
In a phenomenon the researchers called "experience-taking", readers who were deeply into a book were found to adapt the same set of beliefs, feelings and emotions as the characters they were reading about. Sometimes, these changes lead to real change in the real world.

“Experience-taking can be a powerful way to change our behavior and thoughts in meaningful and beneficial ways,” said Lisa Libby, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

In one of the examples the study cites, people were asked to read a story about voting a few days before an election. 65% of those that read the story went on to vote in the election, compared to a measly 29% who didn't read the voting story and still voted. That's a not insignificant increase of 36%! Just from reading a story involving a character who voted.

Reading fiction and identifying the characters lead to positive changes in the behavior of the readers. People who read books about characters who were another race or had a different sexual orientation lead the reader to have a better opinion towards these groups that people who didn't read fiction. It's official, reading makes you a better person. Science! 

It's a fascinating study with interesting consequences and I definitely suggest you read it yourself. Let me know in comments if you agree with the study and if any characters changed the way you act!

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