Fiction: Simulation of Social Worlds by Keith Oatley
The journal Trends in Cognitive Science have published this research into the way fiction can help people - especially children - understand the world they live in. The research report begins:
Plato  distrusted literary art and wrote of it as a ‘mimesis’, an imitation. He argued that, in daily life, we see only shadows, not unchanging truths, such as those of mathematics. As an imitation of the everyday world, art is yet further removed from truth: a shadow of a shadow. Plato's line of thinking may be among the reasons why literary art has, until recently, not been of much interest in cognitive science.