Does Watching Harry Potter Promote Creativity in Kids?

By Julie Rasicot — March 29, 2012 1 min read
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Score one for Harry Potter fans.

That’s for the kids who love the movies featuring the famous wizard and parents who are fans but also worry about the impact of too much fantasy on their impressionable children.

A new study by researchers from Lancaster University in Lancashire in the United Kingdom found that watching fantasy movies could enhance creativity in young kids. Researchers discovered there was a link between magical thinking and creativity, according to a press release from the university.

“This is the first attempt to study whether there any educational benefits in exposing children to magical content like witches and wizards, Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy,” the release said.

The small study involved just 52 kids ages 4 to 6, who were split into two groups before watching two 15-minute clips from “Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone” (known in the United States as “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone”), the first of the seven movies based on the books by J.K. Rowling.

Researchers found that the kids who watched scenes dealing with magic—witches and wizards using wands and flying on broomsticks—scored significantly better on tests for creativity than the other kids who watched clips without magic in them, according to the study. The children were given the creativity tests before watching the film clips and took them again afterward.

“Magical thinking enables children to create fantastic imaginary worlds, and in this way enhances children’s capacity to view the world and act upon it from multiple perspectives,” concluded Eugene Subbotsky, Claire Hysted and Nicola Jones from the university’s department of psychology. “The results suggested that books and videos about magic might serve to expand children’s imagination and help them to think more creatively.”

The study says that magical thinking “embraces the idea that thoughts, words, and even wishes can produce direct physical effects on inanimate objects.” Its key feature is an ability to construct an alternative world, much like the world of witches, wizards and Hogwarts.

Admittedly, it was a small study, but I can’t think of a better reason to watch the boy wizard with the lightning scar just one more time.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Early Years blog.