Young people who read the Harry Potter books are less likely to be prejudiced against ethnic minority groups, a new study has revealed.
The study by a team of researchers from the UK and Italy shows that reading Harry Potter books improves children’s attitudes toward stigmatized groups (immigrants, homosexuals, refugees).
The study “The greatest magic of Harry Potter: Reducing prejudice” by Dr Loris Vezzali and colleagues has been published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
Dr Vezzali said: “Harry Potter empathizes with characters from stigmatized categories, tries to understand their sufferings and to act towards social equality. So, I and my colleagues think that empathic feelings are the key factor driving prejudice reduction.”
The researchers carried out their experiments with elementary school, high school and college students in Italy and the United Kingdom.
“The world of Harry Potter is characterized by strict social hierarchies and resulting prejudices, with obvious parallels with our society,” Dr Vezzali said. “Harry has meaningful contact with characters belonging to stigmatized groups. He tries to understand them and appreciate their difficulties, some of which stem from intergroup discrimination, and fights for a world free of social inequalities.”