Psychological Effects of Reading Literature
This chapter reviews studies reviewed supporting the fact that literary works are read in a different way than other kinds of written works: they evoke different modes of perception and processing for reading than other kinds of text do. It summarizes a research which suggests the power of narrative versus nonnarrative, fictional versus nonfictional, and literary versus non-literary texts to affect people's feelings and their ways of thinking and acting in relation to others. Artistic literature, literary fiction in particular, invites readers to enter an envisioned world that they can observe, reflect on, and participate in. A considerable body of research confirms the fact that reading fiction promotes positive psychological change that can cause social change as well. The effects of poetry can be equally dramatic in terms of being transported to a different world or space by language and imagery, being powerfully affected on an emotional level, and developing new perspectives.