The article written by Gabriel and Young (2011) is a powerhouse for psychological sciences and it highlights the impacts of reading novels. Through the article, readers can temporarily get a sense of belonging although from different views. The authors denote that when people read, they become part of the community of the story or narrative that they are reading. In the article there is a test hypothesis of participants who read wizard and vampire novels. Despite the fact that the mechanism of reading helps to satisfy the human need of belonging, it made them become part of the community of the narratives they read.
The authors of the article denote that through reading, people feel a sense of human connection without necessarily having real human relationships. For instance, a person reading a book can develop a connection, which will make him or her draw tears, become sad, or happy. With this analogy, it is clear to denounce that there is a connection between the human mind and what it is imparted either through sight or reading. Research done by Gabriel and Young (2011) of 140 undergraduates shows that there is a connection when people read because it makes them part of the community of what they read or study. For example, the hypothesis test done in their research indicate that undergraduate students who read passages in the books about wizards in the Harry Potter series psychologically become wizards and at the same time, those students who read passages from Twilight series a book that has a narrative story about vampires made the students to psychologically become vampires.
The article also talks about the theme of collective identity, which plays a vital role in group affiliation. The theme emerges from the claims of "we-ness", a term that means people working together maybe through imagined attributes with the sense of a set of others (Association for Psychological Science, 2011). The article talks about collective identity through its hypothesis tests, which some group of students to similar perception until they become emotionally, morally, and cognitively connected. They view themselves through the lens of a group where there is a psychological connection between the self and a group. This was validated by researchers who performed an experiment using 140 undergraduate students (Gabriel & Young, 2011). The first part of the experiment categorized participants to the extent of identification of groups and needs. Some of them read Twilight novel in which Edward talks a story that makes the reader feel like a vampire is having a romantic relationship with Bella while another group read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone novel. The relationships created became fulfilling and they related to the human basic urge of human connection. In addition, it is through collective identity that the students became assimilated something that led to increase in life satisfaction, fulfillment of primary outcomes, and an increase of positive mood.
On the other hand, the theme of social identity is also highlighted in the article. The authors denounce that human beings are at times driven by a need of being socially attached (Gabriel & Young, 2011). It is achieved through the experience of being closely attached through being cared for, valued or loved. Therefore, it varies from one group to another depending the quality of meaning relationship in existence. Social identity makes individuals join groups and it is led by the internal mechanisms. For example, in regard to reading the novels, students developed social skills, which helped them to learn the rules of game-forming human relationships. They also identified themselves as merging with the self and characters as they read the novels. Therefore, to increase social identity, humans can be grouped according to their perceptions to read books and this can assist to reduce effects of social rejection hence make them happy (Association for Psychological Science, 2011). Upcoming research asserts that drawing people to familiar narratives when they are sad or lonely will increase the level of social identity for the fact that it will enhance them identify characters they are most likely to merge with and thereby increase social interaction.
The need to belong is another theme elucidated in the article. Individuals have a high propensity to affiliate themselves to groups that will meet their emotional needs. They need to be accepted and to be part of for example a team, reading group, wizards, vampires, to mention but a few (Association for Psychological Science, 2011). The need to belong is more than social or collectively identity for the fact that it involves gaining attention, acceptance, and support from a group and it has to be mutual. The need to belong impacts the behavior, attitudes, and beliefs of an entire group and it forces them to conform to the norms and standards that define all people of the group. From the article, both novels Twilight and Harry Potter demonstrate collective assimilation, which shows that participants from the hypothesis tests developed a need for belonging (Gabriel & Young, 2011). When there are life satisfaction and positive outcomes in any endeavor, individuals will be satiated with an urge for needing a sense of belonging. The need for belonging also helps to create a sense of connection hence increasing the creation of social relationships either physically or psychologically. In addition, the concept of social surrogate, which is developed through symbolic relationships that are created through reading makes people develop an urge for the need of belonging. It is possible for people to develop symbolic relationships with groups even if they are not physically real. An example of this is when the participants developed a need for belonging with two groups, wizards and vampires and they were psychologically attached to the groups even if they were symbolic.
Gabriel and Young (2011) say that research leads to the fulfillment of social connection for the fact that it takes readers into a fantasy world full of imagination even if it is not actually in real life. Most research, especially in psychological sciences, focuses on social and relational connection and at the same time team or group affiliation. It submerges readers into avenues where they create a sense of self and collective identity by demonstrating the consequences of self and assimilation. For example, from the third hypothesis, the effects of collective assimilation result in consequences of the need for belonging. The participants were satiated to belong to a group that will mutually satisfy their needs and improves mood. Therefore, through narrative reading, individuals can be satiated to create a connection that positively satisfies their lives.
In conclusion, it is clear from the article that reading can make the readers forget his or her role and adopt that of the character. Readers can submerge themselves in symbolic groups, which does not exist in real life. Reading, therefore, creates a social and collective identity, and a sense of belonging as elucidated by Twilight and Harry Potter novels.
Gabriel, S., & Young, A. F. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: The narrative collective-assimilation hypothesis. Psychological Science, 22(8), 990-994. Retrieved from: file:///C:/Users/User/Downloads/Fall%202019%20Becoming%20a%20Vampire%20Without%20Being%20Bitten%20(1).pdf
Association for Psychological Science. (2011). Becoming a vampire without being bitten: Reading expands our self-concepts, study shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved from: www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110424152522.htm.
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