Reading Harry Potter may make Americans less favourable to Trump

Washington, July 22 (IANS) Harry Potter books, with their message of tolerance and respect for difference, may make Americans less favourable to Donald Trump, who is the Republican Party’s nominee for the US presidency in the forthcoming elections, suggests an interesting study.

Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels, with more than 450 million copies sold worldwide and is written by British author J.K. Rowling.

Reading Potter stories may act as a shield against Trump’s message as it leads Americans to take a lower opinion of him.

Trump’s messages oppose the lessons conveyed in Harry Potter, but have been found closer to that of his enemy, Lord Voldemort.

In fact, the more books the participants read in the Potter series, the greater was the effect, the researchers said.

“Because Trump’s political views are widely viewed as opposed to the values espoused in the Harry Potter series, exposure to the Potter series may play an influential role in influencing how Americans respond to Donald Trump,” said Diana Mutz, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, in the US.

The study also found that Democrats, Republicans and Independents have all read Rowling’s books in roughly equal numbers.

“This may seem small but for someone who has read all seven books, the total impact could lower their estimation of Trump by 18 points out of 100. The size of this effect is on par with the impact of party identification on attitudes toward gays and Muslims,” added Mutz.

Even when controlling for party identification, gender, education level, age, evangelical self-identification, and social dominance orientation — all factors known to predict Americans’ attitudes toward Donald Trump — the Harry Potter effect remained, said the paper published in the journal PS: Political Science and Politics,.

In addition, the researchers also collected data on viewership of Harry Potter movies but found that these did not predict Trump opposition.

This may be because of pre-existing partisan patterns in movie viewing whereby Republicans were less likely to see the movies than Democrats, the researchers said.

Reading inherently requires much higher levels of attention and allows for greater nuance in characters, many of whom are neither wholly good nor wholly bad.

Due to length, movies must leave out material from the full books, and they are more likely to emphasize action over the characters’ internal dilemmas and introspection.

For the study, the team focused on three core themes from Harry Potter: The value of tolerance and respect for difference; opposition to violence and punitiveness; and opposition to authoritarianism.

–IANS

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