More than a century ago, Henry James defended the value of fiction by saying that “a novel is a direct impression of life.” Recent research has found that he was right.
Academic researchers from York University have gathered data indicating that fiction-reading activates neuronal pathways in the brain that measurably help the reader better understand real human emotion — improving his or her overall social skillfulness.
The ability to interpret and respond to those different from us — colleagues, employees, bosses, customers and clients — is plainly critical to success, particularly in a globalized economy. The imperative to try to understand others’ points of view — to be empathetic — is essential in any collaborative enterprise.
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