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The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall

Storytelling is our DNA – and Jonathan Gottschall tries to unravel why humans came to be the “storytelling animal” – he traces the (evolutionary and sociocultural) roots of our fascination with storytelling. You can check out the book on Amazon.com!

Since you’re reading this blog about the power of stories, you’re probably interested in… well, the power of stories. And that’s exactly what The Storytelling Animal is all about.

Here’s a quote from the book, which I really enjoyed:

The more deeply we are cast under a story’s spell, the more potent its influence. In fact, fiction seems to be more effective at changing beliefs than nonfiction, which is designed to persuade through argument and evidence. Studies show that when we read nonfiction, we read with our shields up. We are critical and skeptical. But when we are absorbed in a story, we drop our intellectual guard. We are moved emotionally, and this seems to make us rubbery and easy to shape.

But perhaps the most impressive finding is just how fiction shapes us: mainly for the better, not for the worse. Fiction enhances our ability to understand other people; it promotes a deep morality that cuts across religious and political creeds. More peculiarly, fiction’s happy endings seem to warp our sense of reality. They make us believe in a lie: that the world is more just than it actually is. But believing that lie has important effects for society — and it may even help explain why humans tell stories in the first place.

Basically it says: if you want to influence someone, change someone’s beliefs, then using stories – even fictive stories – can be more effective than using facts.

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