How Reading Fiction Makes You A Better Decision Maker
There are those who feel reading fiction is a waste of time. Reading fiction may not be as useful as reading nonfiction for helping you ace your next job interview or test—but that doesn’t mean it’s not useful at all. In fact, reading fiction can make you a better decision maker in the long run. Research from the University of Sussex found that reading literature substantially improves your analytical thinking skills and ability to recognize concealed meanings. This is thanks to the complex characters, plotlines, and themes found in most great works of fiction. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ways reading fiction can make you a better decision maker.
“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
By helping you develop empathy
One of the many benefits of reading books and in particular fiction is that it can help you develop empathy by exposing you to a variety of characters and situations that differ from your own personal experience. In other words, you’ll learn to “walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” If you’re reading a story about a struggling single mother who’s trying to support her family, you’ll start to understand the challenges she’s facing and the emotions she’s feeling. You’ll develop a heightened awareness of the emotions, difficulties, and challenges of the people around you, as well as an increased ability to relate to them. Empathy is essential for effective decision making because it allows you to see the situation from all angles and understand how your choices will affect others.
By helping you recognize subtlety
Reading fiction helps you become more adept at recognizing subtlety by providing you with a steady stream of ambiguous moments and hidden meanings. The power of fiction is great in this respect because most great works of fiction are filled with symbolism, metaphor, and allusions to other works of literature. For example, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Ophelia’s drowning is symbolic of the decay of culture and the loss of innocence. Her flowers are weeds, and she “dies in a source” as everything around her crumbles. In this way, her death represents the death of art and culture. This ambiguity is also present in modern novels, where authors may be communicating social commentary through their characters and plotlines. By reading fiction, you’ll become more adept at deciphering the many meanings embedded in the story. You’ll also become more adept at communicating your thoughts and ideas using subtlety.
By helping you understand the human condition
Reading fiction allows you to observe the human condition in all of its complexity. You’ll be able to see what drives different characters, which influences their choices, and how those decisions impact their lives. This heightened understanding of the human condition will help you make better decisions in your personal and professional life. For example, if you’re trying to decide whether to take a new job, you’ll be able to weigh the positives and negatives by considering the impact the job will have on your career trajectory and your personal life. In this way, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions by taking a balanced approach to the positives and negatives associated with the decision.
By helping you build your vocabulary
One of the best ways to improve your verbal skills is to read. The more you read, the more your vocabulary will expand, which will improve your ability to communicate clearly and effectively. Almost all great works of fiction have a rich, complex lexicon. Reading fiction will help you not only expand your vocabulary, but also learn new words in context, which will make them easier to remember and apply to your daily life. Reading fiction is especially effective for improving your vocabulary in specific fields, like science and technology, because the vocabulary used in these fields tends to be more complex than standard English.
By helping you develop your imagination
Reading fiction allows you to expand your imagination by stepping into the shoes of an array of characters who may be very different from you. This imaginative exercise will help you become a more creative thinker, improve your problem-solving skills, and become a better decision maker. You’ll be able to consider various solutions and weigh the positives and negatives associated with each solution. In this way, you’ll be able to make more informed decisions by taking a balanced approach to the positives and negatives associated with a decision. For example, if you’re trying to determine the best way to spend your weekend, you can use your imagination to consider all of the possibilities.
Reading fiction is not only a relaxing pastime, but also a great way to improve your decision making skills. Fictional stories often have complex characters, plots, and themes that require you to think more critically about what you read. By helping you develop empathy, recognize subtlety, understand the human condition, and expand your imagination, reading fiction can make you a better decision maker in the long run.