A study suggests that readers of fiction tend to exhibit greater capacities to empathize.

Our ability to empathize speaks to the core of what makes us human. But is it a quality that we develop beyond our formidable years? Scientists are asking this question, and examining some offbeat theses for how we can grow our capacity to share emotions with another person. And a recent study suggests that readers of fiction tend to be more empathetic than readers of non-fiction.

One reason for this finding, as suggested by Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts:

This could of course be correlation rather than causation — maybe the kind of person who likes fiction is more empathic to start with — but the researchers think not. They believe that there’s something about exposure to fiction — the direct immersion in another person’s mind and body — that stimulates our empathic muscles.

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