Does reading literary fiction boost social smarts?  A discovery by scientists at the New School in New York was recently retested.

How Students Clear Their Minds to Fill Their BrainsSocial scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, Pace University, Boston College and the University of Oklahoma attempted to replicate the original study.  They did not replicate the results.

Stories about the earlier study were widely shared in social media.  The latest discoveries however, conclude that the original conclusions do not stand up

“Reading a short piece of literary fiction does not seem to boost theory of mind,” Deena Weisberg, a senior fellow in Penn’s psychology department. “Literary fiction did not do any better than popular fiction, expository non-fiction and not any better than reading nothing at all.”

Reading literary fiction is a great pastime, and there are many reasons why people read it.  But the latest results, which are published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, sugges that the expectation of an improved ability to recognize other people’s mental states.

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