Home » MOL2NET-03 » Section 05: WCUCW-01 West Coast University Capstone Workshop, WCU, Miami, USA, 2017 » Paper

[] The Effect of Fictional Literature on Empathy in Children

West Coast University, Miami
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
9 January 2018
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The purpose of this paper is to identify the correlation between reading fictional literature and an increased level of empathy in children. Using an fMRI machine this paper studies the level of empathy that children who read significantly more or significantly less than one another experience while listening to Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling. The findings concluded that the anterior medial prefrontal cortex in children who read significantly more every week is more active than in children who do not. Children who read significantly more are also more likely to detect a situation for which empathy is the proper response and in turn respond empathetically. The results of this study hold significance for the education system, which in the past 15 years has shifted toward teaching for the purpose of standardized testing scores. As this study shows reading fictional literature increases learning outcomes in children that benefits them into adulthood, in turn, benefitting society as a whole. Therefore, the education system needs to focus on teaching fictional literature accompanied by empathy-based discussion, rather than how to take standardized tests. This will increase learning outcomes in children and benefit society through the development of empathetical adults.


reading, literature, empathy, fMRI, prefrontal cortex

Cite this article as

Learn, L.; Cueto, M. The Effect of Fictional Literature on Empathy in Children. In Proceedings of the MOL2NET, International Conference on Multidisciplinary Sciences, 15 January–15 December 2017; Sciforum Electronic Conference Series, Vol. 3, 2018 ; doi:10.3390/mol2net-03-05115


Author biographies

Lauren Learn
Nursing student at West Coast University, Miami
Melissa Cueto
Since obtaining her Master of Arts in English, Melissa Cueto has worked as an educator and writer/editor, both in the U.S. and abroad. Her experience in education includes teaching children, adolescents, and adults in reading, composition, literature, and English language acquisition as well as developing curriculum and presenting professional development seminars for fellow education professionals. She has also worked as a newspaper journalist and has written freelance articles for a number of online publications. Melissa Cueto is currently an instructor at West Coast University, Miami, FL, where she teaches English and Capstone courses.

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