Harry Potter and the Deathly Trump: JK Rowling’s books to save America?
Americans who have read JK Rowling’s celebrated Harry Potter books — known to promote tolerance and diversity — are likely to not think highly of Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for the US presidency, claims an interesting study.books Updated: Jul 23, 2016 13:07 IST
Americans who have read JK Rowling’s celebrated Harry Potter books — known to promote tolerance and diversity — are likely to not think highly of Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee for the US presidency, claims an interesting study.
Harry Potter is a series of fantasy novels that has sold more than 450 million copies worldwide.
According to the study, Americans who have read the Potter stories have low opinion of the presidential nominee as his messages oppose the lessons conveyed in Harry Potter, and incline more towards to that of Potter’s antagonist, Lord Voldemort.
In fact, the more books the participants of the study had 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.
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