New title idea for Harry Potter: The Boy Who Taught Children How to be More Tolerant.
Research published this week in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology found that kids who read J.K. Rowling's wildly popular wizarding series are more likely to reduce their prejudices toward minority groups, reports Pacific Standard. The researchers from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia in Italy noted that the books provide plenty of examples of bigotry, on which children can then form an opinion. From Harry's defense of "mudbloods" like his friend Hermione, to Voldemort's obsession with "pure-blood" witches and wizards, kids were able to recognize the unfairness in these instances and subsequently attach them to real-world examples of prejudice.
One caveat in the research: The "improved attitudes towards immigrants," (researchers asked study participants about their feelings toward either immigrants, homosexuals, or refugees following the readings) were contingent on the kids identifying positively with Harry Potter.
Still, it's not entirely surprising that a child who more easily roots for Voldemort or Draco Malfoy might not demonstrate the same open-minded attitudes as his or her Potter-fan peers. Sarah Eberspacher