Ms Rose Turner

Research project: Within the Minds of Others: The Benefits of Engaging with Fictional Worlds for Real-World Empathic Abilities


Engaging with fictional narratives may benefit real-world interpersonal skills, by providing a means to exercise the cognitive mechanisms associated with empathic understanding. However, empathy is a multidimensional phenomenon and fiction is engaged with via a range of formats. My research examines relationships between different ways of engaging with fiction and different routes to empathic understanding. I hope to contribute to an emerging body of research aiming to establish the benefits of fiction-engagement, and of the arts more broadly, for people's interpersonal skills.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: Within the Minds of Others: The Benefits of Engaging with Fictional Worlds for Real-World Empathic Abilities
  • Research supervisor: Professor Frederic Vallee-Tourangeau


After graduating from Lancaster University (BA Hons., 2006) and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama (MA., 2008), I worked as an actor and applied arts practitioner taking arts interventions and creative training initiatives in a range of contexts, including education, criminal justice, medical and social care settings. I completed a Diploma in Psychology (conversion for postgraduates) through the Open University in 2013. 

Areas of research interest

  • Fiction engagement
  • Arts engagement
  • Empathy
  • Social cognition
  • Research methods and statistics


  • Diploma in Psychology (conversion for postgraduates), The Open University
  • MA Performance Practices and Research, The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
  • BA Hons. Theatre Studies, Lancaster University

Funding or awards received

  • £3000 Qualtrics Academic Bursary, Qualtrics (2018)
  • Best Student Paper Award, International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature (2018)
  • PhD Full Studentship Award, Kingston University (2015-2018)
  • Conference fee waiver, British Psychological Society (2017)
  • Conference fee waiver, British Society for Literature and Science (2019)
  • £500 Research Activity Award, Kingston University (2017)


  • Turner R. & Noon, E. J. (2019). The European Federation of Psychology Students' Associations Junior Researcher Programme: A review from two research project supervisors. PsyPAG Quarterly, 113, 44-46.
  • Turner, R., & Felisberti, F. (2018). Relationships between fiction media, genre, and empathic abilities. Scientific Study of Literature, 8, 261-292. doi: 10.1075/ssol.19003.tur
  • Turner, R. (2019). Empathy, agency and the environment at BSLS 2019. British Society of Literature and Science Spring Newsletter.
  • Turner, R. (2017). Arts and minds: Clarifying the relationship between social cognition and the arts. On Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 2 
  • Turner, R. & Felisberti, F. M. (2017). Measuring Mindreading: A review of behavioral approaches to testing cognitive and affective mental state attribution in neurologically typical adults. Frontiers in Psychology. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00047 
  • Koch, T., Smith, P., Turner, R., & Hutnik, N. (2010). Storytelling with UK Centenarians. University of Surrey Press: Guildford. 
  • Koch, T., Turner, R., Smith, P., & Hutnik, N. (2010). Storytelling Reveals the Active, Positive Lives of Centenarians. Journal for Nursing Older People. 22(8), 31-66. doi: 10.7748/nop2010.

Conference papers

  • Turner, R. (July 2019). Fiction and empathy in the digital age: The effects of digital and non-digital modes of fiction-engagement on empathic abilities. Paper presented at EFPSA European Summer School, Lithotopos, Greece.
  • Turner, R. (June 2019). Fiction and empathy: a multidimensional approach. Paper & workshop presented at SOAS, London, UK.
  • Turner, R. & Vallée-Tourangeau, F. (2019).Immersion in Fictional Stories and Empathic Accuracy: Methodological Challenges and Future Research. Paper presented at the British Society of Literature and Science, Surrey, UK. 
  • Turner, R. (2018). Associations between fiction media and genre engagement, and empathic traits. Paper presented at the International Society for the Empirical Study of Literature and Media, Stavanger, Norway. 
  • Turner, R. (2018). The Art of Character: Investigating relationships between fiction-engagement and empathic traits.Paper presented at Cognitive Futures in the Arts and Humanities, Canterbury, UK
  • Turner, R. (2017). Bookworms, film buffs and thespians: Divergent relationships between fiction media, genre and empathic traits. Paper presented at Systemic Cognition Symposium, Kingston, UK