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Experiencing-taking from reading fiction can change you, precious

Noticed a nasty cough lately?


If you've just read Lord of the Rings and find yourself delighting in dark places, you could be channelling Gollum through a phenomenon called "experience-taking" according to Ohio State University researchers.

They examined what happened to people who, while reading a fictional story, found themselves feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own.

In the right situations, this "experience-taking" may lead to real changes, if only temporary, in the lives of readers. One example involved students reading about a student overcoming obstacles to vote in an election. They were found to be more likely to vote in an actual election shortly after.

The experience-taking phenomenon is short-lived it would seem and doesn't always occur.

“You have to be able to take yourself out of the picture, and really lose yourself in the book in order to have this authentic experience of taking on a character’s identity," said researcher Geoff Kaufman.

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