A study* conducted at Ohio State University suggests that when we
“lose ourselves” inside the world of a fictional character while reading a story, we may actually end up changing our own behavior and thoughts – in real life – to match those of the character.**
In other words, we become what we imagine.
Be careful what you put into your mind.
* The study by Professor Lisa Libby will soon be published in the
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, a publication of
The American Psychological Society.
** This phenomenon, called “experience-taking” by Professor Libby, is different from “perspective-taking” wherein one tries to understand what another person is going though in a particular situation – but without losing sight of one’s own identity.
“Experience-taking is much more immersive – you’ve replaced yourself with the other,” she said.
The key is that experience-taking is spontaneous – you don’t have to direct people to do it, but it happens naturally under the right circumstance.
“Experience-taking can be very powerful because people don’t even realize it is happening to them. It is an unconscious process,” Libby said.