In some good news for bookworms, scientists have found that people who regularly read fiction novels are more likely to be friendly, well-behaved and sympathetic towards others.
Those who prefer watching television over reading are less sociable, according to the study.
Those who like reading of drama and romance novels were best able to understand other people, while those who prefered experimental books showed more positive social behaviour and ability to see things from different perspectives.
“The findings support previous evidence that exposure to fiction relates to a range of empathetic abilities,” said Rose Turner, from Kingston University in the UK.
Researchers at Kingston University questioned 123 people on their preferences for books, TV and plays.
The volunteers were then tested on their interpersonal skills and prosocial behaviour – such as whether they considered others feelings, whether they could see things from different points of view and whether they acted to help others.
Researchers found people who preferred reading novels were more likely to show positive social behaviour and be able to empathise with others.
However, those who preferred watching TV did not have the same ability to empathise and were more likely to show antisocial behaviour.
Comedy fans scored the highest for being able to relate to others, The Sun reported.
Researchers suggest that this could be because reading books allows people to see things from others points of view, which makes them better able to understand others.
“All forms of fiction are not equal. Associations between empathetic skills, media and genre diverge,” said Turner.
“Engaging with fictional prose and comedy in particular could be key to enhancing peoples empathetic abilities,” she said.