A study from a few months ago investigates how novels affect social cohesion:

Boehm and Carroll believe novels have the same effect as the cautionary tales told in older societies. "Just as hunter-gatherers talk of cheating and bullying as a way of staying keyed to the goal that the bad guys must not win, novels key us to the same issues," says Boehm. "They have a function that continues to contribute to the quality and structure of group life."

"Maybe storytelling - from TV to folk tales - actually serves some specific evolutionary function," says Gottschall. "They're not just by-products of evolutionary adaptation."

(hat tip: 3QD)

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