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The specific benefits of reading fiction. Focus group discussions among young adults
University of Borås, Swedish School of Library and Information Science. (E-book project)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1235-4311
2014 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Sustainable development
The content falls within the scope of Sustainable Development
Abstract [en]

The Explicit Benefits of Reading Fiction. Focus group discussions among young adults Reading literature (fiction and non-fiction narratives) in printed books has reached a crucial point today. Results from a national survey show that young Swedish adults spend almost nine times more time per day on digital reading devices than on reading literature in print. According to research, students nowadays do not consider reading literature to be essential to their lives. The question is, then, how attitudes and experiences among young adults towards reading literature appear at present. This study aims to investigate young adults’ statements on reading literature in printed books. Further, the aim is to investigate whether reading literature for personal development and social orientation is of any importance to this age group, and if so what specific benefits are to be found. The hypothesis is that young adults today do not explicitly show an interest in reading literature for personal development and social orientation. Questions posed are: How is the overriding meaning of reading fiction in printed books described? How is reading literature exposed to the personal and social development described? What benefits, if any, are related to reading literature? Theoretical approaches used are psychology and phenomenology in reading with a particular focus on personal and social development. Method chosen was focus-group interviews, which also implicitly includes the philosophy of dialogue. Data was collected from 9 focus groups: 45 respondents in all in the 16-25 year-old age group. The categories of students participating in this study were selected from theoretical and practical classes as well as Folk High School classes. The results showed that attitudes towards reading literature in printed books were, according to the limited sample, positive. This type of reading experience was found to arouse emotions, particularly when descriptive language was used with many details. This made readers “listen to their own voice” and enabled them to “make pictures in their minds”. These statements are recurrent. Adding something from oneself also makes the experience stay longer in the mind. Printed books can be appreciated as artefacts, since they evoke the senses when reading. This was not the case with digitised reading. The results of this study also show that literary imagination was believed to be of importance both to the preservation and broadening out of self. Fiction, rather than narrative non-fiction, was found to stimulate imagination. Benefits from reading literature in printed texts included evocation of emotions, self-reflexivity, judgement, imagination, the shaping of identity and improvement of linguistic facility. Our conclusion is that a conversation on such topics in small groups has several benefits. Concentrated listening, and associations with and reflections on oneself, improve respect and knowledge in terms of human interaction. Conversations such as these, practised at school, have the potential to bring new inspiration and interest to young adults in reading literature. Finally, the hypothesis (i.e. that young adults today do not explicitly show an interest in reading literature for personal development and social orientation) did not correspond with the result. References Bachtin, M. (1986). Speech genres and other late essays. Austin, Univ. of Texas Press. Fialho, O., Zyngier, S. & Miall, D. Interpretation and experience: two pedagogical interventions observed. English in Education Vol. 45 No 3 2011, 236-253. Keene, S. (2007). Empathy and the Novel. Oxford: OUP. Kuiken, D., Miall, D.S., Sikora, S. Forms of self-implication in literary reading. Poetics today 25:2(2004),171-203. Liu, Z. Reading behavior in the digital environment. Changes in reading behavior over the past ten years. Journal of documentation. Vol. 61. No. 6. 2005, 700-712. Mangen, A., Walgermo, B., & Brønnick, K. Reading linear texts on paper versus computer screen: Effects on reading comprehension. Journal of Educational Research 58(2013), 61-68. Mar, R.A and Oatley, K. (2008). The function of fiction is the abstraction and simulation of social experience. Perspectives on Psychological Science. No 3, 173-192. Marková, I.et al (2007). Dialogue in focus groups: Exploring socially shared knowledge. London: Equinox Publishing. Miall, D.S. (2006). Literary reading: empirical and theoretical studies. New York: Lang. Nussbaum, M. (1990). Love´s Knowledge: essays in philosophy and literature. New York: Oxford UP. Oatley, K. Meetings of minds: dialogue, sympathy, and identification in reading fiction. Poetics 26(1999), 439-454.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keyword [en]
Uses of Fiction
Keyword [sv]
Fiktionsläsning, Fokusgruppintervju, Unga vuxna
National Category
Humanities Social Sciences Interdisciplinary
Research subject
Library and Information Science
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hb:diva-7207Local ID: 2320/13994OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hb-7207DiVA: diva2:887915
Conference
IGEL International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature and Media. Conference Torino 21 - 25 July 2014
Available from: 2015-12-22 Created: 2015-12-22 Last updated: 2016-11-18Bibliographically approved

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