Cumulative Reading Engagement Predicts Individual Sensitivity to Moral Judgment: The Mediating Role of Social Processing Tendencies
Keywords:moral judgment; social processing; cumulative reading engagement (CRE); theory of mind; literary fiction
Past research suggests one-time literary fiction exposure facilitates the ability to infer the other's emotions/intentions, but the effect has relatively low statistical power, and the mechanism remains poorly understood. To obtain greater statistical power and understand the mechanism, the index of cumulative reading engagement (CRE) with fiction is proposed in the research. College students (N=408) described their reading engagement by completing questionnaires about reading interest, reading time, diversity of reading materials, and fiction exposure. Next, the participants assessed the moral judgment of actions and interpersonal reactivity scales. We analyzed the data using structural equation technique to study three-path mediation model. The results indicated that 1) CRE is related to social processing tendencies; 2) CRE predicts more inferred intentions toward moral judgments; and 3) the effects of CRE on moral judgment are generally mediated by empathic concern, however, the effect was not mediated by perspective-taking and imaging. This study suggests that CRE may be a reliable index that helps to explain the meaning of the term "literary fiction exposure". In general, the people who frequently read fiction may be more driven to develop emotional concern, with more mentalizing processes that help to increase the ability paid to other’s moral intentions.
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