Stories matter. That’s the conclusion reached by scientists, anthropologists, and communication scholars.
Two key discoveries.
Recent findings from an extensive new study of the Agta, a contemporary population of hunter-gatherers in the Philippines, revealed two key discoveries.
One, that storytelling helps humans learn about cooperative behaviors such as the values of gender equality, friendship, and social acceptance of difference. Communities with more storytellers cooperate more readily with each other and are more successful in their work.
Two--a second key discovery: the storytellers themselves, by enhancing social cooperation, receive increased support and are rewarded by others for their contributions to group success.
What makes a "good" story?
So, how can we tell better stories and be rewarded by our audiences? After an intensive study, in the mid-1980s Annenberg professor Walter Fisher developed a helpful and simple description of a “good story.”
Fisher proposed that all meaningful human communication takes place during storytelling – and these stories are more persuasive than arguments. But to be believable, the stories must “hang together” and “ring true.”
It hangs together & rings true.
When a story “hangs together,” it is constructed with the known elements of story: reliable characters, a setting, and a believable plot. This lets listeners relate it to comparable stories they already know to be true, and they find it dependable.
When a story “rings true,” it carries values that connect with readers’ own values, giving the story the power to influence their beliefs.
Check out City Girl Coffee Company for a contemporary example of good storytelling that hangs together and rings true with its intended audience. With bold pink graphics, it tells a story of sustainability and social responsibility for women coffee workers. Illustrated with visual evidence, it facilitates and encourages its targeted audience of women coffee drinkers to act on their values as conscious consumers.