Effects of exposure to literary narrative fiction
From book smart to street smart?
Literary narrative fiction may be particularly effective in enhancing Theory of Mind (ToM), as it requires readers to contemplate author and character intentions in filling the literary ‘gaps’ that have been suggested to characterise this fiction type. The current study investigates direct and cumulative effects of reading literature on ToM using confirmatory Bayesian analyses. Direct effects were assessed by comparing the ToM skills of participants who read texts that were manipulated to differ in the amount of gap filling they required. Cumulative effects were assessed by considering the relationship between lifetime literary fiction exposure and ToM. Results showed no evidence for direct effects of reading literature on ToM. However, lifetime literary fiction exposure was associated with higher ToM, particularly cognitive ToM. Although reading a specific piece of literary fiction may thus not have immediately measurable effects on ToM, lifetime exposure to this fiction type is associated with more advanced ToM.
- Narrative fiction and understanding others’ mental states
- What are the ‘active ingredients’ of narrative fiction that enhance ToM?
- Literary narrative fiction and ToM: The relevance of ‘gaps’
- Competing hypotheses regarding effects of narrative fiction exposure on ToM
- Lifetime fiction exposure
- Data analysis
- Direct effects
- Cumulative effects
- Descriptive statistics and correlations
- Effects of text literariness: Direct effects
- Cumulative effects: Narrative fiction and ToM over the lifetime
- Direct effects of exposure to (literary) narrative fiction on ToM
- Cumulative effects of exposure to narrative fiction over the lifetime on ToM
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