Date of Submission
Open Access Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
© Allie Crum
Along with academically focused benefits such as vocabulary and literacy, fiction reading has social-emotional benefits. Readers of fiction can identify with characters, and be transported into the fictional world, to differing degrees. Fiction, specifically, can help foster empathy. It has been well established that lifelong fiction readers have higher levels of cognitive empathy than those who have had limited experience with fiction. This relationship between transportation and empathy is well-researched, but the effect of identification on transportation and empathy is less well-defined. The relationship between identification with characters and transportation has mixed findings, and has been studied mostly with films. The current study focuses on the relationship between identification and cognitive empathy, with transportation as a possible mediator. Participants (n=148, age 18-60) read the story The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant, with explicit directions: either to read as if they were the main character (high identification), or read objectively (low identification). Participants then rated their identification (as a manipulation check) and transportation using self-report scales. Cognitive empathy was measured by the reading the Mind in the Eyes test, where participants saw a picture of eyes, and selected which emotion was being expressed. Results showed no difference between groups, indicating a failed manipulation. Further tests showed no significant correlation between condition and transportation; or condition and cognitive empathy; or transportation in cognitive empathy. There was also no significant regression equation. Future research is needed to understand the underlying mechanisms, and more potential benefits of fiction.
Crum, Allison, "Walking in Their Shoes and Around Their World: Perspective-Taking in Fiction" (2019). CMC Senior Theses. 2214.