How Readers Can Read Your Mind

A study actually says readers can read people’s minds. One look and avid readers can tell what’s in the back of your mind–even if you feign facial expressions to the contrary. This amazing conclusion was done by David Kidd and Emanuele Castano published in Science. The two are social scientists of New School for Social Research in New York City and they aver that fiction book lovers develop the ability to see through people’s minds and emotions–specifically, empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, they say.

Readers can read your mind.

So don’t try to fool us e-bookers because we can read your mind like Superman. And it’s not just a laughing matter–there is a study to back it up, involving no less than 1,000 participants and 5 rounds of studies. In each test, the fiction readers proved more accurate in identifying the emotions involved by just looking at people’s eyes. Fiction, indeed, is more real than real life.

The explanation is that, non-fiction tells us what to believe while non-fiction frees our mind to imagine what is beyond normal or factual belief. So fiction readers’ minds can explore more sides of an issue, even see those not explicitly included in a story. Fiction stories reportedly leave readers to their imagination when concluding the worth of characters in a story, thereby sharpening critical thinking and discernment skills.

However, the study was quick to say that not all fiction stories produce this result. Popular fiction somehow produces the same results as do nonfiction materials. What it commends are literary fiction stories that make readers actively think–in fact, as if actively involved in the story, questioning in their minds why this or that character did or said a certain thing.

“Transferring the experience of reading fiction into real-world situations was a natural leap, Kidd argued, because ‘the same psychological processes are used to navigate fiction and real relationships. Fiction is not just a simulator of a social experience, it is a social experience,'” the article on the Guardian.Com said.

Reading more of literary fiction makes you extra sensitive about the feelings and thoughts behind people’s actions or words. I just wonder–would readers like this also excel at playing poker or doing detective or espionage works? Well, not all social scientists agree with Kidd and Castano, and understandably so. I’ve seen many folks who love literary fiction who still separate fiction from real life situations. Their discerning skills are used only as long as they’re glued to the story they’re reading. After that, they go back to the real, insensitive world.


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