I’m always interested in the science behind storytelling.
What makes it such an effective part of our social being and communications?
This video by Paul Zak is a good watch. It shares his study on the topic, which revealed a change in a person’s blood chemistry before and after hearing a story. The storytelling caused the participants in the study to produce two chemicals, cortisol (focuses our attention) and oxytocin (prompts care, connection and empathy).
Zak has spent the better part of his professional life trying to figure out why people make the decisions they do, again coming at the topic from a scientific bent. In fact, he heads the Center for Neuroeconomics Studies at Claremont Graduate University.
I’m still debating whether the fact that DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is funding studies on storytelling is a good thing or not.
P.S. I watched Zak’s TED talk which explains why women are typically nicer than men. At the risk of giving away the punch line, they produce more oxytocin. He doesn’t say whether this is a byproduct of women listening to more stories.