What is it about?

This research project suggests that people who read a lot of fiction have better cognitive skills than people who read little or no fiction. These benefits are small in size across various cognitive skills, but of medium size for verbal and general cognitive abilities, for example, intelligence. Importantly, there is a stronger association between reading fiction and cognitive skills than between reading nonfiction and those skills. However, whether the benefits are caused by reading fiction or by one or more other variables remains to be determined through future research.

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Why is it important?

Over the last decades, scholars from several disciplines have claimed far-reaching benefits of reading fiction for social cognition in the real world. These claims have been accompanied by a wave of empirical research on this topic and on further cognitive outcomes. In the present project, we meta-analyze extant published and unpublished empirical work examining cognitive effects of fiction reading in order to gain a quantitative research overview.


We hope to show that meta-analyses using a comprehensive, multiple-source literature search are ultimately worthwhile as they provide a more complete research overview than reviews reyling on a "quick-and-dirty" database search.

Lena Wimmer
Julius-Maximilians-Universitat Wurzburg

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Cognitive effects and correlates of reading fiction: Two preregistered multilevel meta-analyses., Journal of Experimental Psychology General, April 2024, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/xge0001583.
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