A new study finds that people who read books live longer than those who do not. Researchers looked at “3635 people who were 50 or older,” and found that on average, “readers were found to live for almost two years longer than non-readers.”
Why is that?
In the paper, the academics write that there are two cognitive processes involved in reading books that could create a “survival advantage”. First, reading books promote the “slow, immersive process” of “deep reading”, a cognitive engagement that “occurs as the reader draws connections to other parts of the material, finds applications to the outside world, and asks questions about the content presented”.
“Cognitive engagement may explain why vocabulary, reasoning, concentration, and critical thinking skills are improved by exposure to books,” they write. Second, books “can promote empathy, social perception, and emotional intelligence, which are cognitive processes that can lead to greater survival”, they say.
“We had seen some mixed effects in previous literature that seemed to indicate that there may be a survival advantage to general reading; however, we were impressed with the magnitude of the difference of effect between reading books and reading newspapers/magazines,” said Bavishi.
I’m not sure I find the survival argument that convincing– we’re not talking about people living by their wits in a Game of Thrones world– but still it’s an interesting result.