open a book and get open

Want someone you know to get past their rigid thinking and increase their openness? Put a novel in their hands. Canadian researchers say it will help them become more sophisticated thinkers with greater creativity. University of Toronto students were asked to read either one of eight short stories or one of eight essays. Afterward, they each filled out a survey to measure the desire for certainty and stability. The short story readers had much lower scores on that test than those who read the essays. The fiction readers showed needed less order and more comfort with ambiguity. This was particularly true for participants who regularly read. Writing in the Creativity Research Journal, the researchers say, “Exposure to literature may offer a (way for people) to become more likely to open their minds.” Fiction readers will follow thinking styles that are different from their own—they can feel along with characters they may not even like—gaining a better understanding of the viewpoint. You can read the study here.

Stephen Goforth