OOpening the Closed Mind: The Effect of Exposure to
iterature on the Need for Closure
Maja Djikic, Keith Oatley, and Mihnea C. Moldoveanu
University of Toronto
The need for cognitive closure has been found to be associated with a variety of
suboptimal information processing strategies, leading to decreased creativity and ration-
ality. This experiment tested the hypothesis that exposure to fictional short stories, as
compared with exposure to nonfictional essays, will reduce need for cognitive closure.
One hundred participants were assigned to read either an essay or a short story (out of
a set of 8 essays and 8 short stories matched for length, reading difficulty, and interest).
After reading, their need for cognitive closure was assessed. As hypothesized, when com-
pared to participants in the essay condition, participants in the short story condition
experienced a significant decrease in self-reported need for cognitive closure. The effect
was particularly strong for participants who were habitual readers (of either fiction or
non-fiction). These findings suggest that reading fictional literature could lead to betterprocedures of processing information generally, including those of creativity.