The effects of reading narrative fiction on social and moral cognition: Two experiments following a multi-method approach

Lena Wimmer, Gregory Currie, Stacie Friend, Heather J. Ferguson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

We present two experiments examining the effects of reading narrative fiction (vs. narrative non-fiction vs. expository non-fiction) on social and moral cognition, using a battery of self-report, explicit and implicit indicators. Experiment 1 (N=340) implemented a pre-registered, randomized between-groups design, and assessed multiple outcomes after a short reading assignment. Results failed to reveal any differences between the three reading conditions on either social or moral cognition. Experiment 2 employed a longitudinal design. N=104 participants were randomly assigned to read an entire book over seven days. Outcome variables were assessed before and after the reading assignment as well as at a one-week follow-up. Results did not show any differential development between the three reading conditions over time. The present results do not support the claim that reading narrative fiction is apt to improve our general social and moral cognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223 - 265
JournalScientific Study of Literature
Volume11
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 25 Mar 2022

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • fiction
  • narrative
  • social cognition
  • empathy
  • morality

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