What Harry Potter can teach Washington about immigration

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Harry Potter is charming kids into becoming more tolerant and accepting of minority groups.

New research shows that young readers of the popular fantasy series about the famous bespectacled wizard are more likely to be open-minded when it comes to relating to “stigmatized” groups such as immigrants and gay people.

Essentially, kids who read Harry Potter and try to emulate his character are more likely to be accepting of differences in others. In the series of novels, Harry is friends with house elves, goblins, mudbloods and other magical creatures that Voldemort, Harry Potter's archenemy, supporters dismiss as “lesser” beings.


The research, published this week in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, gleaned data from several studies conducted in Italy and England. Researchers found that elementary and high-school age students who identified with Harry are more likely to develop positive attitudes toward immigrant and gay communities after reading Harry Potter passages that deal with issues of prejudice. Those who identified with Voldemort, however, do not tend to share the same sensibilities toward minority groups.

Emily DeRuy is a Washington, D.C.-based associate editor, covering education, reproductive rights, and inequality. A San Francisco native, she enjoys Giants baseball and misses Philz terribly.

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