People who read have more empathy than those who don’t, according to new research.

Those who enjoy reading tend to be more “friendly” and understanding than those who watch television, a study by Rose Turner from Kingston University found.

Turner questioned 123 volunteers on their preferred form of entertainment: books, plays or watching TV. Then they were tested on their interpersonal skills.

People who read fiction demonstrated positive social behaviour, and those who read more in the romance or drama genres exhibited higher levels of empathy.

Those who enjoy reading comedy were found to be more relatable.

However, participants who preferred to watch TV were less friendly and empathetic, the study concluded.

A 2013 research paper may shed some light on why this may be the case: the paper found that watching TV impacted on a child’s ability to think from the perspective of another – or, in other words, their ability to be empathetic.

Amy Nathanson, a professor at Ohio State University involved in the research, had said:

Children with more developed theories of mind are better able to participate in social relationships. These children can engage in more sensitive, cooperative interactions with other children and are less likely to resort to aggression as a means of achieving goals.

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