Does reading fiction make us more empathetic to the world around us?

In an address at this year's annual convention of the American Psychological Association, psychologist Raymond Mar posits that reading fiction will make us more empathetic. As he says, "When people read stories we invoke personal experiences. We're relying not just on words on a page, but also our own past experiences,"


Sounds logical and reasonable, but awfully familiar. Haven't English majors been analyzing and examining literature in the same way for the past hundred years? Dr. Mar's lecture is a bit heavy to get through with his psychology terminology, but he makes a pretty good scientific argument that we need to read more.


I'm pretty sure I've heard every librarian and teacher I've ever known say the same thing but without the psychological explanation. The message? Keep reading. It doesn't just help you, it helps everyone around you as well.