According to researchers from Concordia University, reading for fun has even more benefits than previously thought. Findings from a new study showed that reading for pleasure, as opposed to reading to find specific information, was associated with stronger verbal and cognitive skills.
“It’s always very positive and heartening to give people permission to delve into the series that they like,” said researcher Sandra Martin-Chang. “I liken it to research that says chocolate is good for you: the guilty pleasure of reading fiction is associated with positive cognitive benefits and verbal outcomes.”
Long-term benefits of reading for fun
To determine the benefits associated with reading for fun, the researchers had 200 undergraduate students complete a series of assessments that evaluated their reading habits and their general attitudes toward reading. Afterwards, they answered test-based questions that gauged their verbal and cognitive abilities. The researchers also developed a predictive scale -- Predictors of Leisure Reading (PoLR) -- to see how well they could identify which participants were most interested in reading for fun.
The researchers found that participants who scored higher on the reading questionnaires also scored higher on the verbal acuity exams. The opposite was also true; participants that scored lower on the general reading questionnaires had poorer scores on the verbal tests.
The same associations emerged when the researchers looked at the PoLR. Participants who reported reading more often, specifically seeking out fiction or other novels, also had the highest test scores. Conversely, participants who reported only reading to seek out specific information scored poorer on the verbal acuity test.
The researchers explained that these findings are interesting because of the population that they focused on. While most kids have to read for academic purposes, by the time they reach young adulthood, reading becomes voluntary. It’s important to know that picking up a book for enjoyment can leave consumers with long-term benefits.
“This ingrained interest, wanting to read something over and over again, feeling compelled to read an entire series, feeling connected to characters and authors, these are all good things,” siad Martin-Chang.