According to Djikic and Oatley’s analysis, there are 3 aspects of art in literature that can affect not only short-term but longer-range changes in personality:
- Literary fiction puts us inside the minds of others. Fiction gives us the opportunity to explore the subjective world of its characters. Reading fiction gives you social expertise, just as reading about science or history allows you to gain strengths in those areas.
- Literature can temporarily destabilize personality. The style, figurative expressions, and invitations to involve the reader all help to put readers through an emotional roller coaster similar to what they might experience if they were the protagonists. Like dance or music, well-written narrative fiction can put you in a frame of mind that allows you to open yourself up to inner experiences.
- Artistic literature is an indirect communication method. Unlike advertising, scientific writing, or propaganda, artistic literature offers cues and “invite[s] readers to draw their own inferences” (p. 502). By engaging the reader in drawing inferences about what characters in their stories are feeling, artistic literature is very much like a conversation. It’s through talking to others that we learn to understand how and why people feel the way they do; literature operates on the same principles. (from article by Susan Whitbourne)