Tag Archives: The Storytelling Animal

Live from #TMRE14: Wired for Story

Jonathan Gottschall is a scholar and today at TMRE 2014, he took us through research from his latest book, The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human.

Dreams are night stories, stories are the fabric of our social setting. Gossip is the preferred genre of human stories. We have restless minds.

Story Solutions to Key Solutions:

How do you seize and hold attention?
How do you use it to persuade & influence other people?

Average duration of daydreams is 14 seconds, we have about 2,000 per day.

The neuroscience of the brain on story, less still, less passive, the brain experiences empathetic sensation right along with the story. Much like a reaction to a horror movie, your brain processes stories as real.

“Art is an infection” – Tolstoy

Story shapes us, it’s not mindless, it has the ability to change the person consuming the story. Story changes behavior by changing brain chemistry.

None of this works unless the story is good. The story has to acchive narrative transformation. Your audience has to lose itself.

Story’s Universal Grammar:

Character +
Predicament +
Attempted Solution +

Story’s Function:

A story is a problem solution narrative that carries a deeper message, otherwise it’s just a hollow, meaningless vehicle. It expresses values, beliefs, and a bigger meaning.

We love stories, unlike other messaging, we crave good stories the same way we crave good food.

A well told story cuts through the buzz of distraction, settles our restless minds, and holds us rapt.

No other communication form can do this.

Story is emotional. They can blow your mind and change your mind. Stories are more persuasive than strategies based on argument and evidence.

Story is sticky, if you want an idea to enter into the universe and lodge there it’s best to weave it into a story.

Story is infectious, they demand to be retold. As a result the ideas and values in the stories spread virally through social networks.

We need stories in the best and worst of times. We are storytelling animals, stories offer hope and solace.


Valerie RussoFormerly a senior copy editor at Thomson Reuters, a research editor at AOL,  and a senior web publicist at Hachette Book GroupValerie M. Russo is editor at large of The Front End of Innovation BlogThe Market Research Event BlogThe World Future Trends Tumblr, the Digital Impact Blog, and also blogs at Literanista.net. She is the innovation lead and senior social media strategist for the Marketing and Business Strategy Division of the Institute for International Research, an Informa LLC., and her poetry was published in Regrets Only on sale at the MOMA Gift Shop. Her background is in Anthropology and English Literature. You can reach her at vrusso@iirusa.com or @Literanista.