May 16, 2012

You Are What You Read

It's been awhile since I've curled up with a good story book (I've been reading a lot of how-to and informational books lately), so I think summer's the perfect time to get started on a new novel. After all, isn't there a whole section of books called summer/beach reads (or am I getting the name mixed up)? Anyway, you've probably already theorized this, but never found much evidence to back it up, until now, which is: when you read a work of fiction, your thoughts and behavior can change to match those of your favorite character, according to a study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (via an article I found from The Body Odd).


Relating to fictional characters can make us better people. An example given by this study's lead author, Geoff Kaufman, a post-doctoral researcher at Dartmouth College, is that if you connected with Atticus Finch from "To Kill a Mockingbird," you might focus more on ethical behavior.


Unfortunately, if you bond with a likable but seriously bad-for-everyone-else character, you may try to justify or excuse his/her crimes, wrongdoings, etc.


These researchers have also found that when readers vicariously experience a character's emotions, thoughts, beliefs, etc., this can lead to changes in their real lives. Unfortunately, this effect is believed to only come from written works and not movies.


To learn about the experiments used, head over to the original article here. I find it really interesting, so check it out! Anyway, sounds like a perfectly good reason to start a new reading adventure :) right?


8 comments:

Aulani Photography and BH Giveaways said...

I try really hard not to forgive the bad things from the bad characters no matter how much I fall in love with them lol! I love reading :)

Ana said...

It's amazing how easily influenced one can get by reading, because as humans we each have empath for people and can easily relate with them, so that is a positive and at the same time something to observe when in reading or in every day life, to know whether we are being authentic to who we are, or picking up a character.

Very important post.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

This is rather fascinating! I do love Atticus Finch!

CalliopeCreations said...

Fascinating. Motivation to read higher quality works.

Lori Bergmann said...

Great article! I love to read too and think it does wonders to inspire the imagination! *Ü*

Laura Leeder said...

Yes, how true! An example of this for me is the tv series "Once Upon A Time".

BillGuestPhoto said...

Alice is a lovely picture!! :-)

Jane Craske said...

WhO would want to read a book without a really juicy baddie in it? I'm a crazy reader/English teacher.