Do fiction writers have superior perspective taking ability?
In investigating the relationship between fiction writing and perspective taking, beliefs about the ability of fiction writers to correctly infer the mental states of others were assessed via survey, in comparison to other professions. Next, two groups of fiction writers (established and intermediate) and a control group were compared across different measures of perspective taking. Possible moderating variables such as age, verbal intelligence, depressive symptoms, and fiction reading were measured. Participants provided writing samples, which were scored for quality. Analyses revealed that the general public believes fiction writers demonstrate above-average perspective-taking ability; however, empirical tests revealed no significant between-group differences on the outcome measures, nor any relationship between fiction writing quality and any outcome measures. The results of the suggest that fiction writers are no better than similar individuals who do not write fiction in terms of their ability to infer others’ mental states or take their perspectives.
Keywords: fiction writing, authors, social cognition, perspective taking
Published online: 30 March 2015
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