Can reading fiction affect social interaction?

An article in the Globe and Mail cited a study suggesting that fiction can cure social ailments.

Readers of fiction, specifically narrative fiction, tend to be more empathetic, and tend to have higher “social acumen” than those readers of non-fiction.  Readers of short stories tended to do better on social reasoning tests than readers of essays or articles.

To quote the article:

“Those benefits, researchers say, may be because fiction acts as a type of simulator   Reading about make-believe people having make-believe adventures or whirlwind romances may actually help people navigate those trials in real life.”

I suppose this makes sense.  After all, when we read fiction, we place ourselves into the lives of the characters and their plights.  We follow the story as if we were in it, as if we were the ones making the decisions and seeing them through.  Because of this, we gain a sort of experience similar to the experiences of our real lives.

Fiction allows us to practice for real life.  For that reason, reading fiction allows us to benefit socially, while also enjoying a pretty fantastic tale.

Here’s a link to the article information.