Research Says Book Lovers Are Better At Understanding People

Excited for the August 21 eclipse? Visit our Eclipse 2017 page to explore the science, history, and myths of the event. The Curiosity team will be viewing the eclipse alongside NASA in Carbondale, Illinois. Follow us on Facebook for live videos, trivia, and interviews on the big day.

Bookworms get a bad rap, but guess what? According to research, book lovers aren't the cold and antisocial people our TV-watching counterparts might have you believe. They're actually much kinder, more empathetic, and socially adept than people who prefer prime time.

Don't Trust A TV Fan

In an April 2017 study by Kingston University London, researchers questioned 123 volunteers on their entertainment preferences—books, TV, shows, and plays. They were also quizzed about the they like fiction or nonfiction? Comedy or romance? Then, the researchers tested them on their interpersonal skills—focusing on their behavior and respect towards others. According to Business Standard, "Researchers found people who preferred reading novels were more likely to show positive social behaviour and be able to empathise with others." Those who preferred TV had the opposite results.

Fiction lovers ranked the highest in positive social skills, reinforcing previous research on the subject. Cognitive scientist Keith Oatley, who researched the subject in 2016, explains to the Washington Post: "When we read about other people, we can imagine ourselves into their position and we can imagine it's like being that person. That enables us to better understand people, better cooperate with them." Who are the nerds now, huh?

Fiction For The Win

But that's not all: the kind of fiction you like was associated with some specific social traits, too. Comedy lovers, for example, tend to relate well with others. And, unsurprisingly, fans of romance and drama show the most empathy. But, here's the question: does reading fiction make you nice, or does being nice make you read fiction? Think on that, then maybe pick up a book.

Is there something you're curious about? Send us a note or email us at editors (at) And follow Curiosity on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About Books

Can Reading Boost Your Emotional Intelligence?

How Fiction Makes Our Brains Better

Share the knowledge!

If you liked this you'll love our podcast! Check it out on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, search 'curiosity' on your favorite podcast app or add the RSS Feed URL.