Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lonely? Read a book.

According to a new study by American psychologists, when we read books we actually relate so closely to the characters that we temporarily become part of their social group.

The team from the University of Buffalo have shown that reading satisfies a deep-seated human need for companionship and connection with others.

In an article published in the journal Psychological Science, researchers Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young say that the sense of belonging gained from a book is just as beneficial as one we would gain in the 'real' world.

The books they used in the study were well known vampire and magic stories, which they gave to undergraduates students to read, then monitored the readers' behaviour.

Dr Gabriel said: "This study suggests that books give us more than an opportunity to tune out and submerge ourselves in a fantasy world.

"They give us a chance to feel like we belong to something bigger than us and to reap the benefits that result from being a part of that larger realm without having a 'real' social encounter.
"When we enter the narrative  we don't 'become' Harry or Edward, of course, but we do become a member of their world. That feels really good and it changes us."

You can find out more about it if you click here.


Sandra Davies said...

I could have told them that when I was ten and invariably found myself adopting the genteel precise way of speaking of an Elizabeth Bennet, until being good got too boring.

anthonynorth said...

Interesting study. I'd go further - the best writers are clever at using archetypal images which seem to get under our skin, thus making us more in tune with the characters, as they are a reflection of our own psychology.

snafu said...

Interesting concept, but it not just in books, many people seem to do this with soap operas but on a whole new level, like ten times stronger.