Keith Oatley

Professor Emeritus


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

In the last six years my principal research has been on Cognitive psychology and literary fiction.

I have developed the theory that fiction is a form of simulation that runs on minds. With MajaDjikic and Raymond Mar, I am a member of a small team that conducts research on readers'responses to short stories and other literature. Our group has found the first evidence that, ascompared with reading non-fiction, reading fiction is associated with improved empathy andtheory of mind, and that literary fiction enables small but possibly important changes in readers’personalities.


Keith Oatley is a cognitive psychologist and novelist. His research is on the psychology of emotions and the psychology of fiction. He is the author of seven books of psychology, that have included Such stuff as dreams: The psychology of fiction (Wiley). Among his recent books is The Passionate Muse: Exploring emotion in stories (Oxford University Press) an original novella with psychological commentaries. The first of Keith’s novels, The Case of Emily V. (Secker and Warburg), won a Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Novel. His most recent novel is Therefore Choose (Goose Lane Publications). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the British Psychological Society, and a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science.