Why Fiction Matters: Can Reading Make You A Better Person?

Most people who I spend lots of time with are readers. We tend to gravitate toward each other, I suppose, drawn together in part by a mutual love of books. But I also encounter quite a few people who wonder what’s the point of all this reading, especially if it’s fiction. “Do you really want to write/read a book full of lies?” one might ask. Or another may say, “Why bother reading stories? It’s just escapism.”

We all need a bit of escape from reality now and then, and I’d say fiction is one of the healthiest ways to do that. And, as many writers have pointed out, these books full of “lies” are actually one of the most effective vehicles for truth-telling. Those are both excellent reasons to read and write stories, but for today’s post I want to focus on another reason that numerous studies have been looking at since 2013. Reading fiction can actually make you a better person.

Why Fiction Matters: Can Reading Make You A Better Person? | LikeAnAnchor.com
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Theory of Mind and Fiction

Back in 2013, a study in the journal Science by David Kidd and Emmanuele Castano suggested that reading “literary” short stories immediately improved participants’ scores on the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). This test asks people to look at photographs of actors’ eyes and select one of four states of mind the picture conveys. It’s designed to measure “theory of mind,” which is the ability to attribute mental states to yourself and to others, as well as recognize others have distinct beliefs, desires, intentions, etc. from your own.

The media tends to embellish their reports on scientific studies, so it’s no surprise many popular news outlets said this study proved fiction can increase your empathy. That’s not exactly what the study measured, though, and a subsequent study in 2016 failed to replicate the original’s results. The new study did, however, find that “People who were lifelong readers of fiction … had significantly higher scores on the RMET.” Read more

10 Stories You’ll Relate To If You’re An INFJ

What stories do you relate to as an INFJ? Not just a character in the story that you identify with, but also themes and plot points that speak to something inside you.

That’s what this blog post is about. It’s not necessarily a list of INFJs’ favorite books and movies (though there is some overlap). It’s not even about INFJ fictional characters, though they do appear in several of these stories. This list is about stories that INFJs can read or watch and see something of their dreams, desires, worldview, and personality. We love to find ourselves inside stories, and the 10 on this list are among the stories that INFJs find most relatable.

“We are all stories in the end, just make it a good one eh?”

― The Doctor (Matt Smith)

1. Amélie

Even though it’s always at the top of INFJ movie lists, I’d never seen Amélie (2001) until I watched it to write this post. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can’t think of any film character who’s more relatable for me as an INFJ than Amélie is in this film.

What INFJ hasn’t experienced random strangers pouring out their life’s stories? And how many of us have got so caught-up in our imaginations that we sit crying over our future on the couch? Or imagine that the person running late was kidnapped by bank robbers and through a weird series of events ended up living as a hermit in Afghanistan? Read more

INFJ — Finding Our Label

INFJ -- Finding Our Label marissabaker.wordpress.com
my mind is an interesting place

One of the things you’ll notice if you read things written by INFJs (including the comments under web articles and blogs) is how much those four little letters mean to us. There are other Myers-Briggs types who couldn’t care less what label someone else  “slaps on them” and certainly make no effort to search out a description of their personality type. They simply don’t see the need (which is, somewhat ironically, usually typical of their personality type).

INFJs are not like that. We’re on a search for what David Keirsey calls “self-actualization” even before we realize it. We know we’re different than most other people (about 99% of other people, in fact), but we don’t know why. Many INFJs grow up thinking there’s something wrong with them, either because they are flat-out told that or because they notice they are so different.

I discovered my personality type through an Internet quiz when I was in high school. These quizzes are not always accurate, but the one I happened to stumble across was close enough to recognize me as an INFJ. Everything I read in those results, and in the INFJ profiles that I hunted down next, sounded so familiar. Suddenly I wasn’t the only person with vivid dreams that seemed to blur lines between real and imaginary, or the only person who felt everything deeply and yet couldn’t seem to connect with someone in a conversation. My helplessness with numbers and difficulty working with facts might be inconvenient, but wasn’t abnormal any more. I didn’t have to try and ignore my intuition or try to come up with a logical reason for everything – I could simply accept the fact that intuition is how my mind works.

Other INFJs have similar stories, stories which I’d love to hear. In fact, I’m interested in any stories you INFJs out there would like to share. I’m writing an e-book, and think it would be so much more meaningful if I could include personal stories from other INFJs as well. If you think you might like to contribute, check out this post for details.

INFJs — please share your stories

Update: The book is finished, and you can download the final version here. Thank you so much for your interest!

I’ve started work on an INFJ e-book, and would like to ask you – my fellow INFJs – to share some of your personal experiences. I don’t want this to just be another description of the INFJ personality type. I want real stories that INFJ readers can relate to, and which will give non-INFJ readers insight into how we think. Specifically, I’m looking for short first-hand accounts of what life is like as an INFJ. You can share anything you like, but here are a few prompts:

  • How did you first discover your type, and what was your reaction?
  • In what ways do you feel different from non-INFJs?
  • What role does intuition play in your life?
  • How would you describe the way you feel emotions as an INFJ?
  • Are there any areas of your life or specific situation where you rely on thinking more than feeling?
  • How does an INFJ’s inferior function (Extroverted Sensing) show up for you when you’re stressed?
  • What do you wish other people knew about INFJs?

You would be credited by first-name only to protect your privacy, or I can give you a pseudonym if you prefer to remain completely anonymous. Alternately, if you want your full name used or me to direct readers to your blog I could do that as well. Everyone whose stories are used in the book will receive a free copy once it is finished. If you want to contribute, you can post responses as comments here, or get in touch through my contact form.