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'Harry Potter' Boosts Empathy: Believable or Baloney?

Living 2011/09/14 12:00:00
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A study conducted at the University of Buffalo's psychology department suggests reading "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" can actually increase a reader's empathy, or capacity to relate to the feelings of others.

An associate professor and one of her students asked 140 undergrad students to read either "Harry Potter" or "Twilight," and then describe how it made them feel.

They wrote, "Participants who read the Harry Potter chapters self-identified as wizards, whereas participants who read the Twilight chapter self-identified as vampires."

Obvious enough.

They continued, "'Belonging' to these fictional communities actually provided the same mood and life satisfaction people get from affiliations with real-life groups. Books provide the opportunity for social connection and the blissful calm that comes from becoming a part of something larger than oneself for a precious, fleeting moment."

So they're saying Potterheads and Twihards are building empathy toward their kind by calling themselves wizards or vampires, therefore reading "Harry Potter" and "Twilight" makes you a better person.

Sure, we'll buy it. Score one for Rowling! And, uh, score one for Meyer, too...
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  • White Raven 2011/09/15 16:01:45
    Believable
    White Raven
    +2
    Harry Potter (and Lord of the Rings) Books made me laugh, cry, worry for the characters, smile in victory, scream in anger and made me feel more human then ever.

    Twilight made me feel stupid
  • DSSSD94 2011/09/15 15:51:29
    Believable
    DSSSD94
    +1
    Harry Potter, definitely. It's the most intelligent series of book I've ever read, and I read a LOT. Twilight...not so much.
  • PvK 2011/09/15 14:40:42
    Believable
    PvK
    Gee, did they test having them read other literature, too? Which one of the two they studied made the students more more-empathic? (sic)
  • Josh Robinson R.P.2012' PWCM. 2011/09/15 13:37:19
    Believable
    Josh Robinson  R.P.2012' PWCM.
    Is Vader droping a deuce reading Potter...? vader droping deuce reading potter toilette paper
  • FantasyAuthor 2011/09/15 12:59:15
    Believable
    FantasyAuthor
    +1
    I totally believe that and I am living proof!
  • LarryStylinson 2011/09/15 12:42:41
    Believable
    LarryStylinson
  • White R... LarrySt... 2011/09/15 16:02:53
    White Raven
    +1
    Aman to that sister!
  • Layce LarrySt... 2011/09/15 16:55:38
    Layce
    +1
    lol aint that the truth
  • Katie 2011/09/15 11:39:24
    Believable
    Katie
    +2
    I can believe Harry Potter teaches life lessons, I've experienced them first hand, but the only lesson Twilight taught me was that Barnes & Noble's return lines may take a while on Saturdays.
  • Angecael 2011/09/15 05:24:27 (edited)
    Baloney
    Angecael
    o-o It sounds like it makes sense, but I haven't experienced it.
    I read a lot. A LOT. And so far I still don't feel any more empathy towards the idiots surrounding me.
  • sally 2011/09/15 04:36:50
    Believable
    sally
    +1
    If you pay attention to the book it can teach you a lot of things.
  • Luxxie 2011/09/15 04:14:30
    Believable
    Luxxie
    reading anything can boost empathy
  • Redskin 2011/09/15 04:11:33
    Believable
    Redskin
  • david shiel 2011/09/15 04:00:51
    Baloney
    david shiel
    Just that.
  • Feria~THEZombieSlayingB!tch... 2011/09/15 03:55:41
    Believable
    Feria~THEZombieSlayingB!tch of PHAET!~Badass Incarnate~
    +2
    Rowling writes that well. It's truly a gift.
  • Joe Falzone 2011/09/15 02:41:20
    Believable
    Joe Falzone
    What would be the wrong in believing that empathy is clouding up the area of the potter's and the twilight-er's
  • Seeker of Truth - War Wizard 2011/09/15 02:28:45
    Believable
    Seeker of Truth - War Wizard
    But no series I've ever read has given me the inspiration to excel, or taught me the life lessons that I've gotten from the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind.

    taught life lessons ive sword truth series terry goodkind sword of truth series
  • Katie Seeker ... 2011/09/15 11:35:50
    Katie
    Love that series!
  • padfoot 2011/09/15 01:56:16
    Believable
    padfoot
    +1
    Harry Potter I can believe, but the only thing I felt while reading Twilight was disgust and (unintentional) humor. lol....
  • Nicklover 2011/09/15 01:30:32
    Believable
    Nicklover
    I definitly have learned a lot from Harry Potter, and made some really close freinds(real people, not the book charecters) because of Harry Potter. And did anyone else notice that bologna was spelled wrong...
  • Jewellery Gal 2011/09/15 01:18:35
    Believable
    Jewellery Gal
    Twilight is pretty good but Vampire Academy is even better.
  • Sup4A 2011/09/15 00:18:22
    Believable
    Sup4A
    +3
    Though the only emotion Twilight gives me is a desire to gruesomely kill fictional characters....
  • Larry 2011/09/14 23:31:50
    Baloney
    Larry
    Bull sh-t
  • Lolaita 2011/09/14 23:16:09
  • Epistemically Justified -- BN7 2011/09/14 22:06:23
    Believable
    Epistemically Justified -- BN7
    +2
    ANY book that has mulch-dimensional characters should help readers empathy skills by showing how a different individual might think or react in relatable situations.
  • Clare Marie 2011/09/14 22:02:08
    Believable
    Clare Marie
    But it is a useless study...
  • Ash-the-empress 2011/09/14 22:01:33
    Believable
    Ash-the-empress
    +2
    Books appeal to the intellect and to the emotions. Harry Potter is a great example of a book that draws you into the story, attaches you to the characters, and shows the struggles people go through and how differently people deal with them.
  • Angelinak98 2011/09/14 21:59:59
    Believable
    Angelinak98
    +3
    Well what can I say? A study showed that Spongebob made preschoolers stupider (but in more technical terms :D). How is this any different?
  • luke 2011/09/14 21:55:03
    Baloney
    luke
    +1
    The books were dumb. Go read Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars children.
  • Ash-the... luke 2011/09/14 22:01:58
    Ash-the-empress
    +2
    Those were terrible.
  • luke Ash-the... 2011/09/14 22:04:14
  • Ash-the... luke 2011/09/14 22:10:20
    Ash-the-empress
    +3
    Lord of the Rings droned on for hundreds of pages. I found the story about as much fun to read as writing 4 hours worth of binary code.
    Now that being said, I realize that we have different tastes in literature.
    I find that Harry Potter is easier to relate to and find humor in than a story about hobbits.
    Everyone is different but just because you dislike a book doesn't make it awful.
  • luke Ash-the... 2011/09/14 22:12:26
    luke
    Never said they were awful, just dumb (which is my opinion).
  • Ash-the... luke 2011/09/14 22:13:45
    Ash-the-empress
    +1
    I can respect that
  • Feria~T... luke 2011/09/15 03:56:59 (edited)
    Feria~THEZombieSlayingB!tch of PHAET!~Badass Incarnate~
    I have, actually.

    But, Harry Potter remains one of my personal favorites. It is about personal taste, after all.
  • Believable
    ♥♥Hearts♥♥Of♥♥Hearts♥♥
    They were some pretty good books :) Of course I think HP is better, but at one time (before everybody else got obsessed with it) I too really was in love with Twilight... but now that is nothing but a distance memory of what use to be.... and then I found Harry...
  • dredogg 2011/09/14 20:35:26
    Believable
    dredogg
    +2
    Everyone wants to belong to a group or be special in some way. Find where they belong. Being in that world while reading you are exposed to their world of experience that in turn makes it your experience. The idea that you sympathies with the characters is because you are looking at them from their perspective. This is the same with the TV show Dexter. We all know Dexter is bad. His intentions are (in his mind) to do as much good with the bad that is in him. We all understand this. However, if we didn’t know Dexter and he got caught. Hearing the news reporter explain what he had done would sound something like Dexter + murder = bad person. making things sound glam helps and with the harry potter films and the twilight films we see the struggle and we see the cast overcoming all that is put in front of them looks good but if we were in the mix so to speak we would keep asking ourselves what the hell did I get myself into. We long to be in the know in the club in the mix. But look around you. You are. Aren’t you?
  • thє вluє wαndєrєr 2011/09/14 20:25:39
  • ☠ Live Free Or Die ☠ 2011/09/14 20:12:59
    Believable
    ☠ Live Free Or Die ☠
    +8
    Harry Potter taught me an unbelievable amount of life lessons. :)
  • raquel 2011/09/14 19:55:49
    Believable
    raquel
    to read anything you have to get into it, become part of the book. whether you like it or not it happens. in both of these serice you gain alot of emotion. as you read you gain the emotion the author wants you to feel and the way the reader believes the cheracters should feel. yes, you can bevome a better person by reading this or anything, you are being exposed to other people with out trying. after that you have made a connection with all the other readers around the world.

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