Just because your nose is stuck in a book doesn’t mean you lack social finesse. According to a new study done by Kingston University of London, people who read books are nicer to other people. The study’s researchers asked over a hundred people whether they liked TV, books, or plays the best, and then they asked them some personality questions. Overall, the people who said they preferred books were also more likely to consider other peoples’ feelings or perform random acts of kindness.
The researchers also broke it down into what kind of books people read and how it mirrored their personality. People who prefer humor books scored the highest when it came to relating to others. Those who like “experimental” book were more open to different perspectives. Romance fans were more empathetic than others. The researchers told the British Psychological Society conference last week that they’ve concluded that reading makes for better social behaviors, “Exposure to fiction relates to a range of empathetic abilities,” but engaging with “fictional prose and comedy in particular could be key to enhancing people’s empathetic abilities.”
As much as we love binge watching TV, those who preferred television to books or plays were found to be less friendly and less understanding of others’ views — although the researchers were quick to note that this might not be a total cause and effect type thing. You can hate reading, love binge watching ’90s sitcoms, and still be a nice person. OBVIOUSLY.
Forget about who’s nicer or more empathetic. There are lots of reasons to read a little bit every day, according to a whole bunch of studies. For one, it keeps you young! Studies show that reading keeps your brain functioning effectively as you get older and that those who read regularly are 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than those who don’t. Another study shows that even a quick six-minute reading break can reduce stress by 68 percent.
So pick up a book in between Real Housewives of New York marathons. It’s good for you.