Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Earth Science News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Reading literary fiction doesn't boost social cognition
by Brooks Hays
Philadelphia (UPI) Oct 4, 2016

Scientists solve mystery of the lone wolf wave
Buffalo, N.Y. (UPI) Oct 4, 2016 - Solitary waves or solitons, sometimes called lone wolf waves, are just what they sound like. Unlike normal waves, these nonlinear waves persist without dissipating -- maintaining their shape, speed and energy even after colliding with other waves.

A new mathematical solution, developed by scientists at the University of Buffalo, predicts the phenomenon more accurately than ever before.

In the 1960s, physicists Norman Zabusky and Martin Kruskal developed a formula -- the Korteweg-de Vries equation -- to describe the action of solitons. They also came up with a solution to approximate the waves' formation. But solving their mathematical equation required sophisticated computer-based calculations, limiting scientists' ability to study the finer details of the enigmatic waves.

In a new study published in the journal Physical Review Letters, Buffalo researchers detailed a simpler solution to the Korteweg-de Vries equation.

"Zabusky and Kruskal's famous work from the 1960s gave rise to the field of soliton theory," Gino Biondini, a professor of mathematics at Buffalo, explained in a news release. "But until now, we lacked a simple explanation for what they described. Our method gives you a full description of the solution that they observed, which means we can finally gain a better understanding of what's happening."

Unlike the previous solution, which failed to predict the types of waves scientists witnessed in nature, the latest solution allows scientists to predict the appearance of solitons given a set of environmental parameters.

Researchers in Italy and Japan used the work of Biondini and his colleague Guo Deng, a PhD candidate in physics, to build a water wave generator capable of producing lone wolf waves. The model was able to produce waves matching the predictions of Biondini and Deng.

The model also revealed a related phenomenon called recurrence, whereby a soliton splits into several soliton before recombining once more into a single solitary wave.

"This is akin to placing a bunch of children in a room to play, then returning later to find that the room has been returned to its initial, tidy state after a period of messiness," explained Miguel Onorato, a physicist at the University of Turin.

Literary fiction fans were quick to embrace news that the novels on their shelves bestowed a heightened social intelligence. The supposed link was uncovered by scientists at the New School in New York. Stories about the study were widely shared on social media platforms.

New research, however, suggests the excitement was all for naught. When social scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, Pace University, Boston College and the University of Oklahoma tried to replicate the findings of the original study, they failed to replicate the results. The conclusions of the original study simply don't stand up to scrutiny.

"Reading a short piece of literary fiction does not seem to boost theory of mind," Deena Weisberg, a senior fellow in Penn's psychology department, explained in a news release. "Literary fiction did not do any better than popular fiction, expository non-fiction and not any better than reading nothing at all."

Of course, there are a variety of perfectly valid reasons to read literary fiction. But the latest findings -- detailed in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology -- suggests readers shouldn't do so with the expectation of an improved ability to recognize the mental states of others.

Lead researchers Weisberg and Pace's Thalia Goldstein used the reading materials from the original study -- conducted at the New School for Social Research -- and administered the same theory of mind test, the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, or RMET.

Weisberg and Goldstein say they don't fault psychologists for looking for a way to engage people's social intelligence, but believe scientists have a duty to always double check their conclusions.

"There's been a lot of attention to high-profile studies that show something of social importance," Weisberg said. "It would be amazing if we could put into place interventions on the basis of this study, but we really need to double check and not just rely on one lab, one study, before we go shouting from the rooftops."

The researchers did perform a separate test to see if long-term exposure to fiction was related to a high social IQ. Participants were given a list of authors, some real and some fake, and asked to verify those names which they know for certain belonged to real, live authors. Participants were penalized for selecting fake names.

Those who named the most correct authors tended to score higher on RMET, the theory of mind test. Still, the correlation doesn't prove causation.

"One brief exposure to fiction won't have an effect, but perhaps a protracted engagement with fictional stories such that you boost your skills, perhaps that could," Weisberg said. "It's also possible the causality is the other way around: It could be people who are already good at theory of mind read a lot. They like engaging in stories with people."

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
All About Human Beings and How We Got To Be Here

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Yes, Computing Genetic Ancestors is Super Accurate
Atlanta GA (SPX) Sep 28, 2016
Remnants of extinct monkeys are hiding inside you, along with those of lizards, jellyfish and other animals. Your DNA is built upon gene fragments from primal ancestors. Now researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have made it more likely that ancestral genes, along with ancestral proteins, can be confidently identified and reconstructed. They have benchmarked a vital tool that would ... read more

Agencies warn of fresh disaster as winter looms in flood-hit N. Korea

'Smashed cranes' slow aid flow to Yemen: UN aid chief

Aid teams bracing for the worst as Matthew lashes Haiti

Selfies and prayers as Pope visits Italy quake zone

Study eyes radiation of everyday objects

Small droplets feel the vibe

Large volumes of data from ITER transferred to Japan at unprecedented speeds

Facebook's Oculus pushes virtual reality with new gear

Atlantic Ocean's slowdown tied to changes in the Southern Hemisphere

Vietnam court rejects fishermen lawsuits against Taiwan's Formosa

Clever fish keep cool

Reservoirs are a major source of greenhouse gases

All polar bears across the Arctic face shorter sea ice season

Northern Lights trump street lights in Iceland

Global cooling yielded modern ecosystems 7 million years ago

Arctic Sea Ice Annual Minimum ties second lowest on record

As arable land disappears, here come the vertical farmers

Australian-Chinese bid for massive cattle estate

Flower attracts pollinating flies by mimicking smell of attacked bee

Which cropping system is best for the environment

Chaos in Haiti after hurricane, but neighbors help out

Magma movements foretell future eruptions

Harrowing reports emerge from Bahamas as storm smashes through

Hurricane forces US tourists to flee beach resort

Madagascar protests halt activity at Chinese gold mine

22 soldiers killed in attack on Niger refugee camp

Zimbabwe, Namibia to push for ivory trade

Ivory trade vote exposes divisions on saving elephant

Reading literary fiction doesn't boost social cognition

Why Does Dying Cost More for People of Color

World's first baby born from 3-parent technique: report

UMass Amherst Research Traces Past Climate, Human Migration in the Faroe Islands

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement