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Are Book Lovers Really Better at Understanding People?

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We’ve all heard it at least once or twice in our lives: that it’s not good to read all the time. Which, admittedly, does hold some truth to it, but in comparison to the TV-watching counterparts of bookworms, there is a surprising benefit (along with many others) that reading has over it.

What is that, precisely?

Apparently, better social skills. Surprising? Certainly!

Where’s the proof?

In a 2017 study conducted by Kingston University London, 123 volunteers were questioned regarding their entertainment preferences- both in terms of their preferred medium and genre. Do they prefer films, books, TV shows or plays? Do they prefer romance, action/adventure, comedy, fantasy, etc?

After this series of questions, they were then tested on their interpersonal skills, with a focus on their behaviour and respect towards others.

The result of their experiment? It was found that the volunteers who preferred reading novels were more likely to showcase positive social behaviour and a better ability to empathise with others. Those who preferred watching TV had the direct opposite result.

According to cognitive scientist Keith Oatley, “When we read about other people, we can imagine ourselves into their position and we can imagine it’s like being that person. That enables us to better understand people, better cooperate with them.”

Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, it’s much easier to be sympathetic/kinder to others when we can understand what they’re going through.

PS: Those who love fiction had the highest ranking in social skills.

All the more reason to pick up a book, don’t you think? ;)

But wait! There has to be more, right?

Of course. There was a reason why the volunteers were asked regarding their genre preferences. Because as it turns out, your genre preferences are often associated with certain traits. Weird!

For example, those who love comedy are able to relate well to others, and those who love romance and drama showcase the most empathy.

How curious. Well, the more you know, hm? Might be time to keep mum on your entertainment preferences if you want to maintain an air of mystery around yourself.

Melissa Kartini
Nuffnang Community Team

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