(Community Matters) NYT: Want to Be More Empathetic? Try Reading Chekhov –
a study published Thursday in the journal Science found that after reading literary fiction, as opposed to popular fiction or serious nonfiction, people performed better on tests measuring empathy, social perception and emotional intelligence — skills that come in especially handy when you are trying to read someone’s body language or gauge what they might be thinking.
Literary fiction vs popular fiction: “popular fiction readers made as many mistakes as people who read nothing.”
“Maybe popular fiction is a way of dealing more with one’s own self, maybe, with one’s own wants, desires, needs.” In popular fiction, said Mr. Kidd, one of the researchers, “really the author is in control, and the reader has a more passive role.”
In literary fiction, like Dostoyevsky, “there is no single, overarching authorial voice,” he said. “Each character presents a different version of reality, and they aren’t necessarily reliable. You have to participate as a reader in this dialectic, which is really something you have to do in real life.”
Two take aways – the importance of exploratory, character-filled fiction and the difference from popular fiction which is more plot oriented (for good and bad depending on objective of writer and whomever selecting what to read).
btw, a fun, free emotional intelligence test. Reminded me I’d been wanting to sign up for Lumosity which I’ve done. Even had my first every morning (from now on) workout. Gonna try to enroll my mom too (good workout for Parkisons. She’s enjoying the Pilates workouts I’ve also prescribed).