Does reading make us smarter? Brain science proves that it helps us in cognitive reasoning. For example the sequential elements of a story helps us to plot our thoughts.
But what about becoming a better person? Studies are drawing correlations between reading and empathy.
From a recent BBC article:
Dutch researchers arranged for students to read either newspaper articles about riots in Greece and liberation day in the Netherlands or the first chapter from Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago’s novel Blindness. In this story, a man is waiting in his car at traffic lights when he suddenly goes blind. His passengers bring him home and a passer-by promises to drive his car home for him, but instead he steals it. When students read the story, not only did their empathy levels rise immediately afterwards, but provided they had felt emotionally transported by the story, a week later they scored even higher on empathy than they did right after reading.
Not only that but readers were able to interpret social cues better than non-readers. They were given photographs of a pair of eyes and asked what might be going on. Readers were more apt to “read” signals such as fear, shy, guilty, daydreaming or worried.
The stereotype of a bookworm being anti-social is far from what researchers are finding. Readers are much more in-tune to the interior life of their characters and by de facto the people around them. Begin your summer reading list today!