Patt Morrison for August 14, 2012

Boyfriend or Batman: Research says people subconsciously mimic fictional characters

A Harry Potter fan and his owl

BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images

Oscar Sieling from Copenhagen holds up his stuffed owl as he waits for the release of the final installment of the Harry Potter series of books at Waterstones bookstore on Piccadilly in London, 20 July 2007. "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" is released at 00.01am on 21 July and is the seventh book in the story of the young wizard.

Do you find yourself much more suave after watching a James Bond film? Researchers from Ohio State University examined what happened to people’s personalities and decisions after reading a fictional story, and found that individuals tended to take after the characters they resonate with.

In fact, people would change their own emotions, behavior and thoughts to match characters in stories they read, according to the research. But it doesn’t happen in every instance.

"You have to be able to take yourself out of the picture, and really lose yourself in the book in order to have this authentic experience of taking on a character’s identity,” says Geoff Kaufman, the lead researcher on the study.

WEIGH IN:

So, does reading Harry Potter make you want to buy a wand? What characteristics of your favorite heroes, heroines, villains or villainesses do you find yourself emulating?

Guests:

Geoff Kaufman, postdoctoral researcher, Tiltfactor Laboratory at Dartmouth College


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