Some books change the course of history. Some stories are so epic that they transcend time, culture and exceed all expectation. Harry Potter is one such creation, and has become so beloved and ingrained within us, we may as well be enrolled at Hogwarts. Gryffindor, obvs.
But even we didn’t recognise just how much power the Harry Potter books have. In a recent study published by the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, research examined the potential effects on three different groups of students, concluding that in reading the novels, attitudes to various stigmatised groups including homosexuals, immigrants and refugees were significantly improved.
The first study looked at a group of Italian elementary school pupils, looking at the ways in which their attitudes towards immigrants changed after reading various passages of the HP books over the course of six months. Um, why wasn’t this on the curriculum when we were at school?
Anyway, the children were given questionnaires prior to and after reading the books, with results indicating that the children who identified with the character of Harry Potter had improved attitudes towards immigrants. Similarly, the second study applied the same process to high school pupils, focusing primarily on how the attitudes towards LGBT people changed after reading HP. Again, those who identified most with the positive character (Harry, obviously) showed a more accepting response towards members of the LGBT community.
SEE: The Trailer For The New Harry Potter Film (Yes, Really)
The third and final study involved undergraduate students in the UK, who proved that those with an ’emotional connection’ with Harry had a more positive view of refugees.
We’re pretty sure that J. K. Rowling will be pleased with these results, as she has previously commented on her view of the books and their intentions: “The Potter books in general are a prolonged argument for tolerance, a prolonged plea for an end to bigotry. I think that’s it’s a very healthy message to pass on to younger people.”
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As if we needed another excuse to re-read all seven books, here it is. We know what we’ll be doing this Christmas…