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Study: Book Readers Tend to be Nicer, More Empathetic People Than TV Watchers

Readers of drama and romance novels tend to be more empathetic, according to a University of Kingston study. (Photo by Hero Images/Digital Vision/Getty Images).

If you needed a reason to pick up a new book or finally finish the one you started years ago, here’s one: Reading regularly might actually make you kinder.

A new study out of Kingston University in London suggests that people who prefer books over television are more likely to act in a “socially acceptable manner,” The Independent reported. Of the 123 participants quizzed on their book, TV and play preferences, those who read were more apt to consider other people’s feelings before their own.

On the flip side, avid TV (and Netflix) watchers were seemingly less friendly and less accepting of other people’s views or ideas.

There’s a catch, however, as sticking your nose in just any book won’t make you nicer.

The study found that fans of fiction displayed more positive social behaviors, while readers of romance and drama novels were the most empathetic. Moreover, lovers of experimental literature were better able to view things from different perspectives and readers who liked comedy were best at relating to others, according to the study.

Researchers announced their findings in front of the British Psychological Society last week, declaring that “exposure to fiction relates to a range of empathetic abilities.”

“Engaging with fictional prose and comedy in particular could be key to enhancing people’s empathetic abilities,” they said.


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