Science Says Kids Who Read Harry Potter Are Better People
The Debrief: Potterheads, be proud
If your Harry Potter obsession has re-ignited now the trailer for Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them has dropped, we have good news.
We came across a study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, which found that reading the Harry Potter series of books significantly improved young peoples’ perception of stigmatised groups like immigrants, homosexuals or refugees.
The study worked across several groups of students. Firstly, researchers took 34 Italian primary school students and made them take an intensive six-week course on the Harry Potter books (erm, dream education). They made the students fill out a questionaire on immigrants, then split them into two groups.
One group discussed prejudice and bigotry as themes in the series, and the other didn’t. The students in the first group showed ‘improved attitudes towards immigrants’ – but only if they identified with Potter.
The second part of the study looked at Italian secondary school students, and found that readers who had an emotional identification with Harry had more positive perceptions of LGBT people, while a third party of the study measured UK university students, and found that students who didn’t identify emotionally with Voldemort had an ‘improved attitude toward refugees’.
In all three studies, the researchers said that the books were the reason the readers were able to assume the perspective of marginalised groups. And that children were able to understand that Harry’s support of ‘mudbloods’ related to bigotry in real-life.
It’s nice to see how the books can have a positive impact on children and their attitudes to tolerance, and the results are not hugely surprising. JK Rowling herself has long promoted tolerance, from evil characters in the book being anti-Muggles to fighting homophobic comments on Twitter and the like, and has commented herself that ‘The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry.’
Then there's this storming line from Albus Dumbledore to the Minister of Magic, Cornelius Fudge:
‘You place too much importance, and you always have done, on the so-called purity of blood! You fail to recognise that it matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be!’
Keep doing what you’re doing, JK.
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At work? With your gran?
You might want to think about the fact you're about to read something that wouldn't exactly get a PG rating