The effects of fiction consumption on Theory-of-Mind in adults

   Faculty of Management, Law and Social Sciences

  Dr Min Yong  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Past studies have shown that reading fiction is linked to better Theory of Mind (ToM). Yet not much is known about literary aspects or whether the type of fiction modality that drives this superior performance. Additionally, higher ‘transportability’ or narrative tendency is positively associated with better ToM, together with higher frequency in reading fiction.

This PhD project will expand on existing research focusing on the adult population. Other aspects of communication, empathy, executive function and perspective taking will be examined as well. Having higher ToM is associated with better social skills, particularly in older age groups to maintain social relationships and general quality of life. However, we also know that older adults have difficulties in ToM as a result of age-related decline. The benefit of having superior / intact ToM is considered as a necessity in navigate the intricacies in social communication.

Psychology (31)

Funding Notes

This is a self-funded PhD project; applicants will be expected to pay their own fees or have a suitable source of third-party funding. UK students may be able to apply for a Doctoral Loan from Student Finance for financial support.


Fong, K., Mullin, J. B., & Mar, R. A. (2013). What you read matters: The role of fiction genre in predicting interpersonal sensitivity. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 7(4), 370–376.
Kidd, D., & Castano, E. (2013). Reading Literary Fiction Improves Theory of Mind. Science, 342(6156), 377–380.
Kidd, D., & Castano, E. (2017). Different stories: How levels of familiarity with literary and genre fiction relate to mentalizing. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11(4), 474–486.
Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., & Peterson, J. B. (2009). Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes. Communications, 34(4), 407–428.

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