This comes via that wonderful source of reading info, Sharon of Kuala Lumpur, at her bookaholic blog.
"The more fiction a person reads, the more empathy they have and the better they perform on tests of social understanding and awareness. By contrast, reading more non-fiction, fact-based books shows the opposite association."
All this from a University of Toronto study - see Sharon's blog for more details.
"The researchers surmised that reading fiction could improve people’s social awareness via at least two routes – by exposing them to concrete social knowledge concerning the way people behave, and by allowing them to practise inferring people’s intentions and monitoring people’s relationships. Non-fiction readers, by contrast, “fail to simulate such experiences, and may accrue a social deficit in social skills as a result of removing themselves from the actual social world”.
So there you are - go buy/read more fiction. Especially mine... :=D
And in the meantime, back in that post on Trilogies, a book reviewer has placed his take here.