In an upcoming study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, Gabriel and graduate student Ariana Young show what that something is: When we read, we psychologically become part of the community described in the narrative—be they wizards or vampires. That mechanism satisfies the deeply human, evolutionarily crucial, need for belonging.
As predicted, on both measures, Harry Potter readers “became” wizards and the Twilight readers “became” vampires. In addition, participants who were more group-oriented in life showed the largest assimilation effects. Finally, “belonging” to these fictional communities delivered the same mood and life satisfaction people get from affiliation with real-life groups.
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