Being a book lover is stereotyped as a solo act and a lonely hobby. You can watch TV or listen to music in a group, but reading a book will be awfully hard to do in a group activity. This is the reason book lovers have been labeled as introverts and “hermits”.
However recent scientific research tells us that this stereotype might be wrong. One study shows that people that spend time reading especially fiction tend to be more empathetic and socially skilled.
The study was relatively large with 123 subjects answering a questionnaire with topics such as how often do they go out of their way to actively help others or how often do they consider other people point of views.
Researches also identified which people were TV watchers and which ones were book readers and more specifically which ones read fiction, non fiction, drama or romance.
It is reasonable to assume that people that watch TV will tend to find other people that watch the same TV shown and manage to find common ground which could help connect them thus display more social behavior and empathy. Simply because there is such a variety in books the book readers should not have the same advantage.
However, results of the study show that TV watchers tend to be more anti-empathetic compared to book readers who rated high on the empathy scale.
It is also intriguing that not all book readers are the same, with the readers of fiction displaying the most amount of empathy. Specifically, readers of comedy were best at relating to people and readers of romance and drama were most empathetic and most skilled as seeing things trough other people eyes.
The results do raise a question of what came first the chicken or the egg. Was it the empathetic nature of the people that pulled them towards books or was it books that developed that empathetic side? Maybe TV watchers can read a book and solve that mystery as well.