Losing Yourself in a Book Suddenly Becomes a More Powerful Metaphor

Psychologists have taken a step closer to understand how and why readers come to identify emotionally with their favorite characters in a book. This subconscious phenomenon is called “experience-taking,” and an article in Medical Daily highlights recent researchers at Ohio State University  who have delved into how this process works.

Researchers said that experience-taking is different from perspective-taking, a process where individuals try to comprehend what another person is experiencing in a particular situation, without losing sight of their own identity.

“Experience-taking is much more immersive — you’ve replaced yourself with the other,” [co-author Lisa] Libby said in a statement.

The process is spontaneous and happens naturally under the right circumstances.

“Experience-taking can be very powerful because people don’t even realize it is happening to them. It is an unconscious process,” Libby said, adding that the phenomenon could have powerful, if not lasting, effects.