Can Literature Make You More Empathetic?

Books and a figure

Redd Angelo (CC0)

Original Air Date: 
May 04, 2014
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Some of the most popular movies and TV shows feature likeable killers, and the sympathetic monster is a common character in great fiction. (Think Frankenstein’s monster.) There’s a theory that reading fiction helps us learn to understand other people — so does reading about fictional monsters help us feel empathy for real-life criminals? Joshua Landy is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at Stanford and he says fiction can help us be kinder and more empathetic. But it doesn’t necessarily make us better people.

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