Readers of Romance are Better at Picking Up On Emotion

C. Price
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Reading regularly has been known to help people establish better social skills, but is one genre better for advancing social skills than others?

According to new research, that genre is romance.

The study, which was conducted by York University in Toronto, found romance readers rank highest in sensitivity, followed by readers of thriller/suspense and general domestic fiction.

Researchers asked participants to identify names of known and relatively unknown authors from different genres to pinpoint regular reading patterns.

Participants were then shown a series of black and white photographs of eyes, each from actors portraying various mental states. The subject’s were asked to identify which types of emotions the eyes were exhibiting.

“Romance readers were found

to rank highest in sensitivity.”

The participants were also given a personality survey to discern any sensitivity issues that might skew the results.

While no negative sensitivity issue was found among those reading nonfiction, it was the fiction readers who stood out at interpersonal sensitivity.

The study’s authors said the results are not all that surprising, as romance most directly deals with social settings and emotional contact.

According to the study, different forms of reading materials can provide unique social advantages.

“Each fiction genre is likely to provide a distinctive conceptual framework through which readers construct meaning about the social world,” the study read. “It may be that the emotional experiences evoked by romance novels lead to rumination on past relationship experiences…perhaps encouraging readers to puzzle out the complexities of their own past romantic relationships. This thoughtful introspection might then be usefully applied to new social interactions.”

Source: York University. Photo source: