Trending: Sebastian Flyte, meet Mary Poppins


We all love to lose ourselves in a good book but can we be more influenced by literature than we previously thought? A new study from Ohio State University suggests that readers who identify with fictional characters are prone to subconsciously adopt their behaviour, so a reader would find themselves feeling the emotions, thoughts, beliefs and internal responses of one of the characters – something the researchers are calling "experience-taking".

A series of tests were conducted on 500 volunteers, the results of which will appear in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, and found, for instance, that those who strongly identified with a fictional character who had overcome obstacles to vote were significantly more likely to vote in a real election soon afterwards.

Crack open that copy of American Psycho with caution.