Communications 34 (4):407-428 (2009)

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Abstract
Readers of fiction tend to have better abilities of empathy and theory of mind. We present a study designed to replicate this finding, rule out one possible explanation, and extend the assessment of social outcomes. In order to rule out the role of personality, we first identified Openness as the most consistent correlate. This trait was then statistically controlled for, along with two other important individual differences: the tendency to be drawn into stories and gender. Even after accounting for these variables, fiction exposure still predicted performance on an empathy task. Extending these results, we also found that exposure to fiction was positively correlated with social support. Exposure to nonfiction, in contrast, was associated with loneliness, and negatively related to social support.
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DOI 10.1515/comm.2009.025
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Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds.Keith Oatley - 2016 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 20 (8):618-628.
Cognitive Approaches to Emotions.Keith Oatley & P. N. Johnson-Laird - 2014 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 18 (3):134-140.
M-Reading: Fiction Reading From Mobile Phones.Anezka Kuzmicova, Theresa Schilhab & Michael Burke - 2018 - Convergence: The International Journal of Research Into New Media Technology:1–17.

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