To become a better people person, try hitting the highbrow books. A New School of Social Research study showed that participants’ Theory of Mind (ToM)—that is, their understanding of other people’s mental states and desires—greatly improved when they read literary fiction.
And, sorry, we don’t mean über-popular Fifty Shades of Grey–type fiction. We mean top-tier, prize-worthy books, from authors like Anton Chekhov and Alice Munro (both of whose works were included in the study). In literary fiction, says study author Emanuele Castano, Ph.D., “the author shows you what the character is doing and gives you some motivations and thoughts; but most of the work you have to do as a reader, constructing the character as you go.” If you slept through college, we’re here to help.