Using Narratives to Influence Memory, Attitudes, and Behavior
Sunday, May 25, 2014,
9:00 AM - 10:20 AM
Stories are used universally to transmit important information. Conveying information through narrative can improve understanding and change attitudes. This symposium will present the newest advances in understanding the impact of narratives on memory and behavior, and how this understanding can be applied to enhance narrative efficacy.
Story-telling is a universal characteristic of human culture, used widely among both traditional and modern cultures as a means of transmitting important information. It has long been known that narratives are inherently compelling; research on narrative is revealing that we may be uniquely equipped to learn from narratives. The presentations in this symposium will convey the newest advances in our understanding of the impact of narratives on learning and memory, the behavioral response to narratives, and how narrative effectiveness can be enhanced. The first presentation (Zacks) focuses on the ability to segment events in narratives. This ability predicts both narrative comprehension and the memory for events portrayed within the narrative, suggesting that event segmentation is a basic cognitive mechanism that supports learning from narratives. The second presentation (Marsh) focuses on how narrative transportation interacts with suggestibility, increasing the likelihood of learning false “facts”. This research has implications for designing narratives to improve the chances that audiences will remember information presented within them. The final presentation (Clark, Tullman, & McCandless) will explore the impact of congruity between narrative themes and the audience’s affective state. For example, persuasive narratives are more effective when the themes (such as appeals to health consciousness or appeals to appetitive value) are congruent with the audience’s current self-regulatory state. Finally, the discussant (Romero) will relate these lines of research to better understand the basic cognitive mechanisms underlying learning and memory, and how we can advance narratives to serve the public good.