A series of university studies in Italy, which were recently published in The Journal of Applied Psychology, show that the HARRY POTTER books do more than give you an exciting, memorable read. They can actually help you become a much more empathetic, tolerant person!
The studies asked elementary, high school, and university students to read various sections from Harry Potter and then consider marginalized groups within the countries like immigrants, refugees, and the LGBT community. While control group readers who simply read the more commonplace, everyday portions of the books presented some harsh views, students who read sections specifically dealing with bigotry relayed more tolerance and acceptance when discussing these groups.
The motivations proved different among the age groups, however. For the two younger studies, there was more genuine empathy for the marginalized groups. University students in particular were a bit more resistant to HARRY POTTER’s messages on bigotry, but admitted that they really, really did not want to say anything that would make them sound sympathetic to Lord Voldemort– proof that education on differences and acceptance need to start young, according to the study.
Loris Vezzali of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, who conducted the studies, said:
“Unfortunately the news we read on a daily basis tells us we have so much work to do! But based on our work, fantasy books such as Harry Potter may be of great help to educators and parents in teaching tolerance.”