Mentally dating fictional character

Eleven residents and four attending psychiatrists read up on their symptoms and met once a week to discuss them.They stipulated early on that Edward was, indeed, a vampire."Experience-taking changes us by allowing us to merge our own lives with those of the characters we read about, which can lead to good outcomes," said Geoff Kaufman, who led the study as a graduate student at Ohio State. It only occurs when people are able, in a sense, to forget about themselves and their own self-concept and self-identity while reading, Kaufman said.

"Experience-taking can be a powerful way to change our behavior and thoughts in meaningful and beneficial ways," said Lisa Libby, co-author of the study and assistant professor of psychology at Ohio State University.

When you "lose yourself" inside the world of a fictional character while reading a story, you may actually end up changing your own behavior and thoughts to match that of the character, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Ohio State University examined what happened to people who, while reading a fictional story, found themselves feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters as if they were their own -- a phenomenon the researchers call "experience-taking." They found that, in the right situations, experience-taking may lead to real changes, if only temporary, in the lives of readers.

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