Preferred Name

Hamilton, Kane

Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)

Department

Department of Graduate Psychology

Advisor(s)

Dr. Patricia Warner

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether reading narrative fiction can potentiate empathy in middle school students. Participants were randomly assigned to two groups: narrative fiction group and expository nonfiction group. Participants in the narrative fiction group were asked to read a passage from a novel selected from the 5th grade Common Core reading curriculum. Participants in the expository nonfiction group were asked to read a passage from a science book from the 5th grade Common Core science curriculum. Pretest and posttest data were collected using the Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI). Results of this study indicate that narrative fiction very likely has a positive effect on empathic thinking as measured by the IRI when compared to expository nonfiction. Additionally, results indicate that long term exposure to narrative fiction may also be correlated with empathic thought. Results also indicate that high IRI Fantasy subscale scores predict posttest overall IRI scores following immediate exposure to narrative fiction.