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STUDY: Fictional Characters Can Influence Real Life Actions

Ohio State University researchers have released a study about “experience-taking,” the psychological term for the moment when readers find themselves “feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses” of a fictional character when reading.

One part of the experiment involved 82 undergraduate students who were registered to vote. They read different versions of stories about fictional voters coping with problems as they tried to vote on Election Day–some were written in first person, some in third person.

Check it out: “The results showed that participants who read a story told in first-person, about a student at their own university, had the highest level of experience-taking. And a full 65 percent of these participants reported they voted on Election Day, when they were asked later. In comparison, only 29 percent of the participants voted if they read the first-person story about a student from a different university.”

What do you think? Can fiction really change behavior? If you want to read more, the complete results will be published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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