Being a book nerd makes you a better friend

A new study has linked reading fiction to being able to empathise


People who like reading make better friends, according to a new study.

Researchers at The University of Toronto found that people who read fiction were better at understanding and emphasising with others.

Keith Oatley, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at the University of Toronto, explained that reading about people different to ourselves allows us to empathise with them more easily.

He said: “When we read about other people, we can imagine ourselves into their position. That enables us to better understand people, better cooperate with them”.

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Oatley’s study is one of several that have linked reading to having better social skills and greater empathy.

Previous studies have  shown that watching TV dramas and playing video games also makes people better at putting themselves in others shoes.

Fans of classics like Wuthering Heights reap greater benefits from reading than those of genre fiction like Twilight though. According to a 2013 report, readers of highbrow books reported an enhanced ability to imagine what might be going on in someone’s head.

That doesn’t mean reading genre fiction had no effects though. A study published in an American political journal showed that Harry Potter fans were more likely to dislike Donald Trump than people who hadn’t read the series.

Commenting on the study, Professor Diana Mutz of the University of Pennsylvania explained readers might see similarities between Donald Trump and Harry Potter villain Voldemort.

She told TIME: “I think a lot of the identification of Trump’s dominating kind of politics is something people associate with Voldemort.”