The results reported by Kidd and Castano (2013) indicated that reading a short passage of literary fiction improves theory of mind (ToM) relative to reading popular fiction. However, when we entered Kidd and Castano’s results in a p-curve analysis, it turned out that the evidential value of their findings is low. It is good practice to back up a p-curve analysis of a single paper with an adequately powered direct replication of at least one of the studies in the p-curve analysis. Therefore, we conducted a direct replication of the literary fiction condition and the popular fiction condition from Kidd and Castano’s Experiment 5 to scrutinize the effect of reading literary fiction on ToM. The results of this replication were largely consistent with Kidd and Castano’s original findings. Furthermore, we conducted a small-scale meta-analysis on the findings of the present study, those of Kidd and Castano and those reported in other published direct replications. The meta-analytic effect of reading literary fiction on ToM was small and non-significant but there was considerable heterogeneity between the included studies. The results of the present study and of the small-scale meta-analysis are discussed in the light of reading-times exclusion criteria as well as reliability and validity of ToM measures.

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Keywords Literary fiction, Meta-analysis, Replication, Theory of mind
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Journal Collabra: Psychology
van Kuijk, I, Verkoeijen, P.P.J.L, Dijkstra, K, & Zwaan, R.A. (2018). The effect of reading a short passage of literary fiction on theory of mind. Collabra: Psychology, 4(1). doi:10.1525/collabra.117