Do readers primarily identify with or judge heroes in a novel?
In this article about different categories of heroes, Matt Bird states that sensitive and unlucky heroes are hard to write because audiences have a hard time caring about them. He says:
"Americans are hard-wired to hate losers... If I were to ask you, 'who’s more sympathetic, a homeless guy or a CEO?', most people would say the homeless guy. The problem, I think, is that moviegoers aren’t looking at snapshots, we’re living with someone. We’re not being asked to judge them, we’re being asked to identify with them, and if you asked people which of those two they’d rather share their lives with, you’d probably get a different answer."
This is all in context of movie scripts. But I'm wondering if the same is true of novels. I know that I never consciously put myself in the place of the hero or imagine them as a real person, a friend, or a stand-in for myself. But do most readers do this? And even if not, do they somehow still identify with the hero such that proactive, competent, or enviable heroes are better at creating the fantasy that pulls many readers in?
And what does this say about role-model heroes whom we love because they inspire us? What about everyman heroes? Anti-heroes?