Reading Fictions, Changing Minds

The Cognitive Value of Fiction

1. Edition, 2014
343 Pages

ISBN: 978-3-8253-6418-2
Product: Book
Edition: Softcover
Subject: Anglistik/Amerikanistik
Series: Schriften des Marsilius-Kollegs, Volume No.: 11
Available: 03.12.2014

Keywords: Lesen, Psychologie, Fiktionalität, Erzähltheorie, Verstehen, Narrativik, Kognitionswissenschaft, Neurowissenschaften, Theory of Mind, Theorie des Lesens, Interpersonalität

This book explores a phenomenon that has so far mainly been studied by psychologists and neuroscientists who are interested in how fictional stories can change readers’ beliefs and even improve their abilities to understand others. ‘Reading Fictions, Changing Minds’ tries to redress the balance by combining concepts from narrative theory with insights from psychology in order to analyse why and how reading fictional narratives can enhance our cognitive abilities. In order to achieve a better understanding of the cognitive value of reading fiction, the book on the one hand applies concepts taken from psychology and the neurosciences to explore the cognitive potential of specific features of fictional stories. On the other hand, it uses insights from narrative theory to examine to what extent narrative is involved in making sense of human experiences. It is argued that engaging with fictional narratives can hone readers’ skills of understanding other human beings, improve their narrative competence and serve as a privileged means of social learning for adults.


Alexander Dunst in: Anglia, 135.1 (2017), 215ff

Stella Butter in: Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Vol. 64.2 (2016), 223ff

Ralph Müller in: Journal of Literary Theory online, 2017, 3.2.2017, URL:

Peter Hanenberg in: Germanistik, Bd. 56 (2015), Heft 1-2, 121f [865], DOI:

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