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If you've ever been lost in a radio drama, caught up in a film or transfixed by a play, you've probably not stopped to ask why. Yet, humanity's fascination with fiction is an evolutionary enigma. Now, Oxford arts and sciences researchers have found that stories that arouse our emotions trigger the same mechanisms as other forms of bonding.

Robin Dunbar, professor of evolutionary psychology at Oxford University, explained: 'Fiction is widely studied by humanities academics as it is an important feature of human society, common to all cultures. Yet the reasons why fiction can be so engrossing and the functions for this have not been widely studied by psychologists or behavioural biologists.'

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