A Feeling for Fiction

Books, movies, and plays are more than just entertainment, says psychologist and novelist Keith Oatley. They train us in the art of being human. He explains how fictional works nurture empathy and enhance our social and emotional lives.

When we examine this process of identification in fiction, we appreciate the importance of empathy—not only in enjoying works of literature, but in helping us form connections with those around us in the real world


These effects derive from our cognitive
capacity for empathy, and there are
indications that they can help shape
our relationships with friends, family,
and fellow citizens.


By Keith Oatley