The “Harry Potter” series left a spellbinding mark on pop culture since the first book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, hit the shelves 20 years ago. But that isn’t the only area where the stories left a legacy: “Harry Potter” can have an effect on who you are as person.
There’s some scientific literature that suggests that the books about The Boy Who Lived can actually improve your life. Between the act of reading and the “Harry Potter” story itself, research shows there are some psychological health benefits to diving into the magical world of Hogwarts.
If you’ve been hiding under a rock the last two decades and haven’t read the series (or if you’re just looking for an excuse to read it again), do it for your own personal development. Below are a few ways “Harry Potter” makes you a better person overall, according to science:
The books help reduce prejudice in the reader.
A 2014 study found that kids who read “Harry Potter” are more likely to reduce prejudices toward minority groups and display greater levels of empathy. The theory is this is likely due to the fact that Harry often aligns himself with “stigmatized” groups in the book, from house elves to wizards with non-magical parents who are derogatorily called “Mudbloods.”
Coincidentally enough, a separate, 2016 study found that reading “Harry Potter” also lowers Americans’ opinions of Donald Trump. The more people in the study read the books, the less likely they were to agree with his political views, like the proposed ban on travel from Muslim-majority countries. Take that for what you will.
“Harry Potter” could offer some insight into your personality type.
Do you think you’re a Hufflepuff or a Gryffindor? The Hogwarts house you identify with may offer some insight into your real personality, according to a 2015 study.
Researchers examined the Hogwarts housing placements of the study volunteers, which were obtained through the “Harry Potter” fansite Pottermore. (For those who need a refresher, here’s a breakdown of each house’s traits: Gryffindor members are known for their bravery and heroism; Hufflepuffs are considered friendly and fair; Ravenclaw members are revered as witty and intelligent; and those sorted in Slytherin are seen as ambitious and cunning.)
The study volunteers were then given an assessment that measured aspects of their personalities, including traits like agreeableness, a need for cognition and narcissism. For the most part, people’s personality traits matched up with the stereotypes of each Hogwarts house. Those who were sorted into Ravenclaw, for example, had a more positive association with a need for cognition.
So in other words, reading “Harry Potter” and aligning with a certain house could theoretically say something about who you are as person. Isn’t that a fun way to discover more about your character traits?
Reading in general can sharpen your mind and ease stress.
If all of that wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s always the benefit of reading in general. (And if you’re going to pick up a book, it may as well be a story that has science-backed perks, right?)
Research suggests reading can help reduce stress by serving as a form of escapism. Not only that, it has the ability to sharpen your mind and slow down memory decline later in life. It could even lower your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
All of this sounds like our kind of magic.
From June 1 to 30, HuffPost is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the very first “Harry Potter” book by reminiscing about all things Hogwarts. Accio childhood memories.