BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Date of Submission



Maria Haqqani, Visiting Faculty, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


Research shows that a correlation exists between reading fiction during childhood and Theory of Mind (ToM) i.e.: the ability to interpret and infer the emotional states of other people; avid fiction readers perform better on tasks designed to test empathy than nonfiction readers. The current study is a replication of a research conducted by Tabullo et al. (2018) in the context of a developing and postcolonial city of Karachi, Pakistan. The sample consists of 10 adults with an equal number of male and female participants. It consisted of university-going students, belonging to upper and middle class families, ranging from 18-25 years old. All participants were proficient in both English and Urdu. Exposure to fiction was gauged via short interviews and ToM was tested by performance in the Reading the Mindin the Eyes Test (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001) as well as the Emotion Quotient (Salavoy & Mayer, 1990). Qualitative analysis of the interviews as well as participants’ scores on both tests showed a positive relation between reading fiction and ToM. There was no sex difference observed as mentioned in Tabullo et al. (2018). Additionally, this study researched bilingualism and its effects on reading and interpretation. Analysis showed that the participants’ dominant language played a consequential part in the comprehension and interpretation of reading, and its translation into real emotions.

Key words: fiction reading, theory of mind, trait empathy, bilingualism



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