Harry Potter has so many lessons to teach kids and adults alike, as it’s full of allegory and references to many issues we deal with in our own world: racism and xenophobia, classism, ideology, loss, nepotism… the list goes on and on. Well, now a study has shown that fans of the wizarding series are actually good people because of it.
The findings were published in the Journal of Social Psychology. The study, titled “The Greatest Magic of Harry Potter: Reducing Prejudice,” performed three separate experiments which all yielded the same result: fans of the Boy Who Lived are much more tolerant people.
This was true of all age groups. One of the experiments called upon HP fans in elementary school while the other two were cross-sectional studies of high school and college-aged students. All of them proved the researchers’ hypothesis that “extended contact through reading the popular best‐selling books of Harry Potter improves attitudes toward stigmatized groups (immigrants, homosexuals, refugees).”
Seeing the world through Harry’s eyes is helpful. Being able to see Harry’s world and the problems and issues he and his friends face allows readers to draw parallels to the real world. Hermione is dubbed a “filthy mudblood,” Ron is extremely poor, Harry lost his parents and lives with his “reactionary, prejudiced, narrow-minded, ignorant, and bigoted” extended family. These are severe hardships, but through friendship and continued belief in doing the right thing, they prevail. In effect, readers find themselves becoming more empathetic towards others as well as more accepting of those who are different than them.
The findings aren’t surprising at all. After all, we all know that reading opens our minds and expands our worldview, helping us step out of our narrow existence and understand different ways of life, different beliefs and perspectives, and different ways of being. Through this, we can offer more acceptance of others. The more we read, the more we learn, and the kinder we become. Let’s all pick up more books!
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