Thanks for the link to that article. Interesting read. I may even venture into reading the entire study report to which the article in turn links.
Besides the slight change in terminology, the question seems to cover the discussion regarding the merits of literary fiction vs genre fiction, which is a rather recurring theme in press contributions dealing with writing. I feel that I do not entirely capture that debate, to the point even that it feels a bit contrived sometimes, so I will stick to some loose general reflections:
- more and more, I have the impression that the line between literature and genre fiction is blurring. Sure, there are still many authors that are situated at one clear side of the question, but there are more and more authors who, in my opinion, can impossibly be situated on one side. Joe Abercrombie is an example of those. There clearly is a plot in his books, but then his characters are very strongly developed and the language he uses very refined. Also, the more you read Abercrombie, the more you get the impression that his concoted fictional middle-ages world in fact lays the ground for a very subtle critical view at our present society(ies). Eggers is another example of such writers in my opinion. Zeitoun and What's the What clearly tell a story, but through the story also offer a critical view.
- I find it interesting that this study seems to base the distinction between both literature and popular/genre fiction on the development of the characters and assumes that characters are less developed in popular fiction because it would focus more on the plot. Whereas, I would feel that it's near impossible to have a good plot without character development. In the end, the way characters react to and deal with events, is a fundamental part of any plot. Strong characters drive a plot.
Anyway, I think this is the first time that some kind of actual study has been performed in this respect, which, again in my humble opinion, hands it more merrit than the usual theoretic contemplations on the subject.
Well, just my 5 cents.