A study has shown that reading classical literature books can help us develop paranormal abilities, such as reading the thoughts of others.
According to the authors of the study, literature, through its symbols, artistic world and unusual plot development provides us with clear-cut instructions on who to trust and how to feel.
Reading works of fiction has a positive effect on building up habits for navigation.
Scientists believe that books augment our ability to build models of the psychological state of other people.
Science magazine has published results, according to which readers scored the most points in empathy tests.
Researchers Castano and Kid have measured the cognitive effects of fictional literature in a series of 5 experiments.
They made volunteers read 10 to 15 pages of popular and classical literature every day.
Short stories by Chekhov, Don DeLillo and O. Henry were included in the classical literature. Bestsellers by Danielle Steel, as well as science fiction works by Robert Heinlein, were included in the popular literature.
When the participants finished reading the texts, they were given tests to evaluate their ability of modeling the state of mind of other people.
In one of the tests, the volunteers looked at a picture of a stranger for 2 seconds, after which they were to determine the emotional state of the person in the picture - happy, resentful, whether he was afraid.
In the more complex experiments, the participants saw only part of the face of the stranger and had to choose between 4 emotional states.
The groups that read fiction did a much better job in comparison to the groups that read mostly journalistic texts or read nothing.
Fans of Chekhov writings achieved the highest results in empathy tests.
Scientists have no clear explanation about why reading has such an impact on the mind.
Most experts believe that the described psychological states expand our worldview and thus help us read the thoughts of others.