Reading Can Improve Social Perceptions

booksThe term bookworm is usually associated with shy, introverted types who prefer the company of novels to actual people. While books can be a great tool for avoiding others –they give you something to stare at when that weirdo on the subway is looking your way –a new study published in Science journal found that reading literary fiction can actually improve social skills. People to read authors like Chekhov and then took tests that measured social perception, empathy, and emotional intelligence scored higher than people who read non-fiction or popular fiction, and higher than those who read nothing at all. The scientists involved believe the effect is due to novels that demand the reader suss out emotional subtleties to learn and make inferences about the characters in the plot. So go ahead and take the excuse to join your friend’s – coworker’s –cousin’s book club, and chalk up the wine you drink when you meet to the noble pursuit of enhancing your social skills. And if you’re curious about where you fall on the emotional empathy spectrum, take this fun quiz by The New York Times here (I got a 31/36!).

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