I found in my notes some references and personal observations, I aim to demystify the neuroscience of story and show that the products we consume are much more complex than we often give them credit for.
Through my small research, I have found that there are really only two types of stories: Stories that are well-crafted narratives with identifiable characters and goals, and stories characters interacting with and moving through a world with a coherent narrative arc.
When we meet new people, we tell stories to bring them into the story, to gain their trust and support, and to identify with them. Stories can make a difficult, complex situation relatable if you’ve been there.
Stories can also make people vulnerable. The most effective stories play to the emotions, the ego, and our fears. Stories, particularly for corporations, contain hidden messages which exploit our most human responses and drive us to respond in particular ways.
As we say: when it comes to people and behavior, the brain has failed us.
And what is the use of a good story?
A great story taps into our emotions and empathy. It activates us and creates a pathway to what we really care about.
When we care about someone, we want to understand what makes them tick, what motivates them, and, of course, what they might be willing to do for us. The psychology of storytelling has been widely explored by scientists, but there’s not much in the way of applied research.
That is where we come in. My research shows that there are a number of well-known stories which are well suited to the agenda of the present day, especially the transformation of the world we inhabit.
To realize that transformation, we need stories that help us understand the nature of what is emerging. Stories that give us a chance to step out of ourselves and view the world from the perspective of others. Stories that encourage us to question authority, and challenge accepted beliefs. Stories that make us ask: “How can I take action?”
Here are 10 stories that can help people:
- Without political freedom, our societies collapse.
- Democracy is the “most studied and least understood” political system.
- People live in “worlds within worlds.” It’s not just television that causes disconnection.
- Affluent consumers buy from brands that engage with their aspirations and experiences.
- Autonomy is one of our strongest predictors of success.
- When people feel controlled, they can become driven and motivated.
- People want to buy into “something bigger than themselves.”
- People are more attracted to what they perceive as “authentic” and “honest” than the “vanity” of the products and services.
- Leaders should be remembered for the things they did for others, not for their own glory.
- A belief in the afterlife can be the ultimate driver for helping others.
These are just a few examples. They are used for both fiction and non-fiction. Each has its place.
If we can get people to care about and respond to each of these stories, the shift to a more sustainable world becomes much easier.
As audiences and consumers, we have to pay attention.
We are all in the story business.
And the story is, “it’s not just money. It’s human relationships.”