Literary Fiction Increases Emotional Intelligence Findings and explanations What you should know and be able to do at the end of this lesson: • Define: emotional intelligence, empathy, literary fiction. • Distinguish between literary fiction and popular fiction. • Explain the link between emotional intelligence and literary fiction. • Self assess how to be more empathetic. • Describe how lack of empathy may explain cruelty. Consider the difference “It has made me better loving you... it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better. It’s just as when one has been trying to spell out a book in the twilight, and suddenly the lamp comes in. I had been putting out my eyes over the book of life, and finding nothing to reward me for my pains; but now that I can read it properly I see that it’s a delightful story.” ― Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady • “He picked up the wrench and broke the guy’s wrist with it, one, and then the other wrist, two, and turned back and did the same to the guy who had held the hammer, three, four. The two men were somebody’s weapons, consciously deployed, and no soldier left an enemy’s abandoned ordnance on the field in working order. The doctor’s wife was watching from the cabin door, all kinds of terror in her face. "What?" Reacher asked her.” ― Lee Child, Worth Dying For Definitions • Literary fiction – serious fiction writing that rejects easy explanations, focuses on the characters rather than the plot. • Emotional intelligence – the ability to interpret and respond to those different from us. Readerly (literary) vs. Writerly (popular) • Popular (writerly) = genre fiction like adventure, romance and thrillers, where the author dictates your experience as a reader. • Literary (readerly) fiction lets you go into a new environment and you have to find your own way. Emotional intelligence and success Peter Salovey, a psychology professor at Yale, looked at the correlations between emotional intelligence and salary and found that people rated highest by their peers in emotional intelligence received the biggest raises and were promoted most frequently. The study: (Catano & Kidd, 2013). • 3 groups, each assigned to read a different literary genre: literary fiction, popular fiction, non-fiction. • Each group was then tested for emotional intelligence (4 different tests). • The group that read literary fiction consistently scored higher on tests of emotional intelligence than all other groups. Examples of tests: Reading the mind in the eyes Explaining the results Reading sensitive and lengthy explorations of people’s lives, that kind of fiction is literally putting yourself into another’s person’s position – lives that could be more difficult, more complex, more than what you might be used to in popular fiction. In literary fiction there is no single, overarching authorial voice. Each character presents a different version of reality, and they aren’t necessary reliable. You have to participate as reader in this dialectic, which is something you have to do in real life. - Albert Wendland, Professor, Seton Hill University By forcing you to think, empathize, and assume instead of handing you prototype characters whose actions and personalities can be squarely understood, literary fiction is literally making you a more caring and emotionally intelligent person. -Zach Schonfeld, The Atlantic Are you empathetic? Answer yes or no to the following: • I often think about other’s feelings. • I don’t make fun of other people because I can imagine what it’s like to be in their shoes. • I listen to others about what they are going through. • I try to understand other’s points of view. • I am aware that not everyone acts the same way I do. Empathy and evil • NPR: could a lack of empathy explain cruelty? http://www.npr.org/2011/09/30/140954023/co uld-a-lack-of-empathy-explain-cruelty After listening to the story, taking notes, and reviewing with your elbow partners, discuss how this story is connected to reading literary fiction.