You Are What You Read, Study Suggests (MSNBC)


According to research conducted by Geoff Kaufman, a postdoctoral researcher in Dartmouth’s Tiltfactor lab, the connection a reader has to a fictional character in a novel can be quite powerful. Kaufman’s research suggests that the “fiction-effect” has the power to influence a reader’s thoughts and behaviors to match those of a character in a book.

An MSNBC article explains what the researchers refer to as “experience-taking,” which occurs when a reader adopts the beliefs or thoughts of their favorite character. Having such deep connections to a certain character can make a positive and lasting impression, Kaufman told MSNBC. “If you’ve got a deep connection with the characters, it can have a lasting impact,” Kaufman said. “It can inspire you to re-read something. And then the impact can be strengthened over time.” One experiment showed a correlation between readers identifying with a character who had to meet many challenges in order to vote and the readers’ likelihood of voting in elections themselves.

Kaufman is a co-author of the study published by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, titled “Changing Beliefs and Behavior Through Experience-Taking.”

Read the full story, published 5/13/12 on MSNBC.

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