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Wired to react to stories

We hear it again and again - we are wired to act on stories! Now we have the science to back it up! This information is core to how we plan our impact when we want to create change...

Here are the main points from Kendall Haven’s book “Story Proof: the science behind the startling power of story". Though the book focuses on research that supports the use of storytelling for education, Haven also shares many research gems and insights that have significance for strategic innovation and engagement. My top three are below. References for all these points are in his book.
1. Our brain is biologically wired to process information in story. And the more stories we process, the stronger the wiring gets. This research finding corroborates anecdotal evidence that we make sense of, analyze, remember and share information that’s presented in a story structure better than info offered via non-story formats. This sense-making ability is what I (and many others) call “narrative intelligence”, innate expertise that is largely untapped for social and strategic problem-solving.
2. Research indicates that early exposure to and use of story structure for information processing leads to better math and logic skills later in life. So, the more we work through story, the better we get at asking good questions, analyzing complexity and challenging assumptions – that is, thinking critically. And I’d argue that critical thinking is one of the most essential skills needed for social and strategic innovation. It’s also a skill most sorely lacking.
3. We process information through the lens of personal experience. We make meaning from stories according to what we already know – information and skills stored in our own personal “story-banks”. This enables us to use our narrative intelligence to extrapolate and intuit the meaning and relevance of information, even if we can only access bits and pieces of it. Think about how much is left out of movies and films – that we are able to fill in automatically. So we can use story strategies to leverage experience and expertise we already have to close gaps and find solutions to complex problems – rather than starting from scratch.
Reference: www.lumosenarrative.com
See also "Stories as data" from the Stanford Social Innovation Review