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Surprising Science

How Good Books Can Change a Person

Researchers at Ohio State University say that reading a good book written in the first person can change the reader in different ways.  

Article written by guest writer Rin Mitchell

What’s the Latest Development?

When a book is written in the first person and the reader can relate to the character in the story, it can cause the reader to take in the character of the book. Based on a study, where college students read a story in the first person about a voter from their own university, 65 percent of the people who read the story ended up going out to vote. The percentage dropped when the same book was read and the character attended a different university. Researchers say that certain aspects like sexual orientation and race can change the attitude of the reader as well. “Heterosexual students reading a tale of a gay man reported greater experience taking and a significantly more favorable attitude towards gays after reading a tale where the character was revealed to be gay late in the story. The effect was much weaker when the character was identified as gay earlier in the tale.” 

What’s the Big Idea? 

Studies reveal that reading the right book about a character people can easily identify themselves with can change the reader in different ways. The reader can become more understanding of a person of a different race through a story or a different sexual orientation. Also, it can motivate the reader to do something they have always been reluctant to do, such as vote. “The researchers only looked at fiction, but there’s no reason to think that biographies won’t have the same effect.”


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