I saw this interesting paper linked on r/books and thought to track down a full copy, which thankfully one of the authors provided on their own website:
The abstract, which I assume is as far as most of you will read, is interesting in of itself:
“What are the effects of reading fiction? We propose that literary fiction alters views of
the world through its presentation of difference - different minds, different contexts, and different situations—grounding a belief that the social world is complex. Across four studies, two nationally-representative and one preregistered (total n = 5,176), we find that the reading of literary fiction in early life is associated with a more complex worldview in Americans: increased attributional complexity, increased psychological richness, decreased belief that contemporary inequalities are legitimate, and decreased belief that people are essentially only one way. By contrast, early-life reading of narrative fiction that presents more standardized plots and characters, such as romance novels, predict holding a less complex worldview.”
The paper is quite meticulous in its argument, and I’d advise you to at least read the introductory sections (through page 7 or so) to get a feel for what’s going on. The “general discussion” from pages 29 to 35 are also of interest if you don’t care about the statistics. Do you think the same arguments used apply for non-literary work? Is there anything you think they’ve done wrong? I couldn’t see anything obviously wrong with the math, although I admittedly wasn’t checking too closely.
Edit: I read the paper again and I was very wrong: there are some funny things going on with the math. Maybe it’s been too long since I’ve taken a stats class, but I don’t recall p=0.051 being significant, and the actual p-value is going to be higher than what they calculated unless I’m missing something