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Researchers Determine That Reading Stories Increases Empathy

November 22, 2018

Research carried out by a team of scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) has revealed that reading stories proves to be a universal experience that may promote empathy in people regardless of cultural differences and origins. The research published in Human Brain Mapping has identified the brain activity patterns of people who completely understand stories in their native language.

As part of the study, the scientists examined more than 20 million blog posts featuring personal stories through a software created by experts from the USC Institute for Creative Technologies. Forty blog entries were subsequently chosen and translated into Mandarin Chinese and Farsi. The blog entries, which featured stories such as divorce and lying, were then read by 90 American, Chinese, and Iranian respondents in their native language. The researchers also scanned the respondents’ brains while reading, and asked the participants a few questions thereafter.

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