Monday, September 21, 2009

The Absurd is Good for You

Reading a book by Franz Kafka or watching a film by director David Lynch,could make you smarter, a study by psychologists of the University of California in Santa Barbara have found [via]. This from the press release :
As part of their research, Proulx and Steven J. Heine, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the article's second co-author, asked a group of subjects to read an abridged and slightly edited version of Kafka's "The Country Doctor," which involves a nonsensical –– and in some ways disturbing –– series of events. A second group read a different version of the same short story, one that had been rewritten so that the plot and literary elements made sense. The subjects were then asked to complete an artificial-grammar learning task in which they were exposed to hidden patterns in letter strings. They were asked to copy the individual letter strings and then to put a mark next to those that followed a similar pattern. "People who read the nonsensical story checked off more letter strings –– clearly they were motivated to find structure," said Proulx. "But what's more important is that they were actually more accurate than those who read the more normal version of the story. They really did learn the pattern better than the other participants did."
I couldn't find the short story online, but it can be found in this volume of Kafkas' collected stories.

(Pic is from an illustrated copy of the story.)

1 comment:

Burhan said...

i don't know. i love kafka but this sounds more like a different version of the 'mozart effect'.

-- burhan (now in london from aberdeen)