Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

We actually 'become' happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book

Date:
May 10, 2011
Source:
University at Buffalo
Summary:
Bad news for muggle parents! A new study by psychologists finds that we more or less "become" vampires or wizards just by reading about them.

Bad news for 'muggle' parents! A new study by psychologists at the University at Buffalo finds that we more or less "become" vampires or wizards just by reading about them.

The good news is that, although we might think our teeth are a little sharper after a session with "Twilight," reading satisfies a deeply felt need for human connection because we not only feel like the characters we read about but, psychologically speaking, become part of their world and derive emotional benefits from the experience.

"Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective Assimilation Hypothesis," published in the current issue journal Psychological Science, presents research supporting the authors' hypothesis that by absorbing narratives, we can psychologically become a member of the group of characters described therein, a process that makes us feel connected to those characters and their social world.

Authors Shira Gabriel, PhD, associate professor of psychology at UB, and Ariana Young, a UB graduate student working in the field of social psychology, also found that the sense of belonging that results from assimilating narratives provokes the same feelings of satisfaction and happiness we would have if we actually were part of the world described.

"Social connection is a strong, human need," Gabriel says, "and anytime we feel connected to others, we feel good in general, and feel good about our lives. Our study results demonstrate that the assimilation of a narrative allows us to feel close to others in the comfort of our own space and at our own convenience.

"In our subjects, this led to a reported increase in life satisfaction and positive mood, which are two primary outcomes of belonging," she says.

To test their hypothesis Gabriel and Young asked 140 UB undergraduate students to read for 30 minutes from one of two popular books, "Twilight" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." Participants then completed a series of questionnaires that tested their conscious and unconscious responses to the narratives.

As predicted, on both conscious and unconscious measures, participants who read "Harry Potter" identified with the wizards and their world and those who read "Twilight" identified with the vampires and the realm they inhabited.

Their subjects not only connected with the characters or groups they read about, however. They adopted the behaviors, attitudes and traits that they could realistically approximate, leaving aside the bloodsucking and broomstick flying.

"This study suggests that books give us more than an opportunity to tune out and submerge ourselves in a fantasy world," Gabriel says.

"They give us a chance to feel like we belong to something bigger than us and to reap the benefits that result from being a part of that larger realm without having a 'real' social encounter."

She says, "When we enter the narrative (whether through a book, movie, radio or television show), we don't 'become' Harry or Edward, of course, but we do become a member of their world. That feels really good and it changes us."

"Research has found that when we are with a group of our 'real' friends, we shift our behavior to be more like them. We now know that this occurs when we read a book, as well," Young adds.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University at Buffalo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Shira Gabriel and Ariana Young. Becoming a Vampire Without Being Bitten: The Narrative Collective Assimilation Hypothesis. Psychological Science, 2011

Cite This Page:

University at Buffalo. "We actually 'become' happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161755.htm>.
University at Buffalo. (2011, May 10). We actually 'become' happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161755.htm
University at Buffalo. "We actually 'become' happy vampires or contented wizards when reading a book." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110509161755.htm (accessed October 20, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, October 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Court Ruling Means Kids' Online Activity Could Be On Parents

Newsy (Oct. 17, 2014) In a ruling attorneys for both sides agreed was a first of its kind, a Georgia appeals court said parents can be held liable for what kids put online. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

The Best Foods To Boost Your Mood

Buzz60 (Oct. 17, 2014) Feeling down? Reach for the refrigerator, not the medicine cabinet! TC Newman (@PurpleTCNewman) shares some of the best foods to boost your mood. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

You Can Get Addicted To Google Glass, Apparently

Newsy (Oct. 15, 2014) Researchers claim they’ve diagnosed the first example of the disorder in a 31-year-old U.S. Navy serviceman. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins