Fictional Writing: The Role of Positive Affect and Empathic Concern




Leigh, Kathleen E.

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The purpose of this study was to examine fictional writing, the positive moods produced by fictional writing, and the ability to empathize and fantasize as predictors of helping behavior. Forty-four female student participants (ranging in age from 18- 26) at Texas State University-San Marcos were randomly assigned to write about either a positive or negative fictional character. Moods were measured before and after the writing exercise. The Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI) measured the ability to empathize and fantasize, and was administered after the writing exercise. Subsequently, participants were asked to help create sympathy cards for the Children’s Hospital. The time spent on the cards, number of cards produced, and the average time spent on each card was measured. Our results showed that condition and individual differences in empathy, as expected, significantly predicted helping as measured by the time spent on each card. Those with gains in positive moods spent less time on each card, but attempted to produce more cards. These findings, their implication and the future directions of this research are addressed.



fictional writing, empathic concern, helping behavior, fantasy, Honors College


Leigh, K. E. (2010). Fictional writing: The role of positive affect and empathic concern (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University-San Marcos, San Marcos, Texas.


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