International Journal of Psychology and Psychological Therapy
  

Volume 18 Num. 3 - October 2018

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Associations between Fiction Reading, Trait Empathy and Theory of Mind Ability

Volume 18 Num. 3 - October 2018 - Pages 357-370

Authors:

Angel Javier Tabullo , Violeta Araceli Navas Jiménez , Claudia Silvana García

Abstract:

THIS PAPER IS AVAILABLE ONLY FOR SUBSCRIBERS. IT WILL BE AVAILABLE ONLINE IN OPEN ACCESS ON October 1st, 2019.


Several studies suggest a link between fiction reading and Theory of Mind, a component of cognitive empathy which refers to the ability to understand other people’s mental and affective states. More frequent fiction readers perform better in tasks that require inference of intentions or emotions in others, like the Reading the Mind in the Eyes task. In addition, subjects who read a fiction text obtain better scores than controls reading non-fiction. Since most of this research has been conducted on caucasic subjects, cross-cultural replication of the effect is still needed. The present study is the first to investigate the subject in a Latin American sample (208 adults -137 females-, ranging from 18 to 59 years old (M= 27.66). We replicated the association between lifelong exposure to print fiction and performance in the Reading the Mind in the eyes task, but the effect was only significant in men. The association remained significant after controlling for age, education level and self-reported Trait Empathy scores. The results are congruent with the hypothesis that reading promotes Theory of Mind ability by engaging mentalizing processes in order to represent the thoughts and feelings of fictional characters. The sex difference we observed had not been reported before and requires further replication and analysis.

How to cite this paper: Tabullo AJ, Navas-Jiménez VA, & García CS (2018). Associations between Fiction Reading, Trait Empathy and Theory of Mind Ability. International Journal of Psychology & Psychological Therapy, 18, 3, 357-370.

Key words:

iction reading, cognitive empathy, affective empathy, Theory of Mind

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