It’s unlikely to come as a surprise to our rabid-readers out there, but it’s a research backed fact that reading makes you kinder. Nicer. Able to fly. Okay, not the last one but two out of three isn’t bad.
Kingston University London conducted a study that examines the effects of reading and watching television on social behaviour. 123 participants were asked to select preferences for books, TV and theatre and were then tested on their interpersonal skills, their consideration for and desire to help others. The study concluded that literature lovers have the edge over their remote control-loving counterparts when it comes to being nicer people. They have greater awareness and empathy.
This knowledge isn’t new. A 2006 study linked reading novels with increased empathy, however reading more non-fiction shows the opposite association, and becoming more analytical. Researchers published their findings in the Journal of Research in Personality and concluded that their finding could have implications for educating children and adults about understanding others.
More recently, another study specified that literary fiction really is the most effective material to read to develop the understanding of other people’s minds, as literary fiction takes you on a journey into those minds and the lives of others, more-so than genre fiction.
Ultimately though, we don’t need studies to show what we innately know – reading great stories takes us for a walk in the shoes of the characters, which helps us understand and empathise with the lives of others. So grab a book, gift a book. Read a book with your children, and always make time for yourself. It’s not only enjoyable, but really does bring out the best in you.