“Harry Potter” shown to promote empathy among readers

According to a paper published online in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology this week, researchers from Italy and the University of Greenwich report that students who read the Harry Potter series are less prejudiced against stigmatized groups than those who have not.

In one of the three studies, high school students were asked about the books they had read in one questionnaire and about their attitudes toward homosexuality in another.  Those students who identified more closely with Harry, in particular, were more likely to report positive feelings toward the LGBT community, while those who identified more closely with Voldemort were more likely to report feelings of prejudice.

The lead author of the paper, Loris Vezzali of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, told Science of Us,

The books do not directly refer to real-world groups, and so their message can be easily applied to several stigmatized categories.

Vezzali also suggested that schools seeking ways to teach students about diversity use Harry Potter as a teaching tool, adding,

Encouraging book reading and incorporating it in school curricula may not only increase the students’ literacy levels but also enhance their prosocial attitudes and behaviors and ultimately help in the creation of a more equal society.

Read the full article here.

Has reading the Harry Potter series changed your perspective on those you thought to be different from yourself? Do you identify more with Harry or Voldemort? Tell us about it in the comments!

Mary W.

I am a Slytherin, a lifelong fan of Harry Potter, and a member of MuggleNet staff since 2014. In my Muggle life, I am passionate about human rights, and I love to travel around the world and meet new people.