The neurochemistry of stories

This an aspect of storytelling that I haven’t really looked at so far; what is the neurological/neurochemical response to narrative?

It’s going an extra step up the chain of “what makes stories compelling?” that I’ve been a bit scared to look at!

I’m not sure that it’s something that I want to look at in depth as part of my literature review but it might be worth alluding to. I don’t feel equipped to examine it properly, not being a “proper” scientist and I’m not sure what bearing it has on my research questions.

But it does give some interesting context.

It’s very interesting andI hope I’m approaching this cautiously. What he’s talking about does seem research-based and a quick library, wikipedia and Scholar search contains published, peer-reviewed research papers.

His research is concerned with morality and trustworthiness, especially in economics (he calls himself a neuroeconomist), and he focuses on the effect of oxytocin molecule.

I’m going to have alook at some of his published papers to satisfy my curiosity and to see whether there are any other theories along these lines.

I don’t want to start bandying around terms like “cortisol” and “oxytocin” willynilly, hoping to get some scientific credibility by proxy.

There are links here to the area of storytelling that I anticipate some may have difficulty with, namely influencing people through emotional response. It’s one of the ethical considerations of storytelling. When does entertaining and engaging becoming influencing become manipulating become coercing and so on.

The fact that some of this research has been funded by DARPA also made me feel uncomfortable. Why would an organisation whose mission is “to maintain the technological superiority of the U.S. military” be interested in how stories motivated behaviour?

Talking about “weaponising” stories is probably too dramatic but isn’t that what propaganda’s about?

 

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