They may be branded as ‘nerds’, but apparently people who read fiction books have better social ability and better abilities of empathy and theory of mind.
Raymond Mar, a psychologist at York University in Canada, and Keith Oatley, a professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto carried out studies in 2006 and 2009.
The idea is that since readers of fiction spend so much time dipping into other peoples’ lives, they’re better able to see the world from someone else’s point of view.
However, don’t just waltz into your local library and grab the first guy you see – you have to make sure it is fiction they’re reading. If he’s hanging out by the non-fiction isle, then it’s not a good sign.
Apparently exposure to non-fiction is “associated with loneliness, and negatively related to social support.” That means they’re socially awkward, which isn’t actually something you should hold against someone, but if you’re looking for someone who will gaze into your eyes and tell you a romantic tale or two, then it’s the fiction fans you’re after.