You could say that fiction is about pain. When you boil them down, stories describe characters taking hits and trying to emerge as unscathed as possible. Neighborhood under attack by zombies? Run hard and hope you have some painkillers on hand if they catch you. Or what if it’s actually a friendly, attractive zombie who loves you? In that case, it’s all good -- until you realize that mortals and undead can never be together. Oh the agonies of unfulfilled love!
Read the rest of my guest post on pain, empathy, and fiction at Nathan Bransford's blog. Older blog followers will recognize one of the studies. I also describe a new study about some interesting gender differences in empathy (Hint: see title).