No Support for the Claim That Literary Fiction Uniquely and Immediately Improves Theory of Mind: A Reply to Kidd and Castano’s Commentary on Panero et al. (2016)

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Abstract

Kidd and Castano (in press) critique our failure to replicate Kidd and Castano (2013) on 3 grounds: failure to exclude people who did not read the texts, failure of random assignment, and failure to exclude people who did not take the Author Recognition Test (ART). This response addresses each of these critiques. Most importantly, we note that even when Kidd and Castano reanalyzed our data in the way that they argue is most appropriate, they still failed to replicate the pattern of results reported in their original study. We thus reaffirm that our replication of Kidd and Castano (2013) found no evidence that literary fiction uniquely and immediately improves theory of mind. Our objective remains not to prove that reading literary fiction does not benefit social cognition, but to call for in-depth research addressing the difficulties in measuring any potential effect and to note the need to temper claims accordingly.

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