Question
Asked 18th Nov, 2013

Why do we like stories?

Children like stories, adults like stories, everyone likes to listen to stories.
Earlier it was gossip, songs, dramas, comics books; now it is video games, movies , etc.
Why do we have an inclination towards listening to stories, that we always have been trying to invent new methods to tell them? What is the anthropological/evolutionary significance?

Most recent answer

7th Jan, 2014
Saileela Modem
St.Joseph's College for Women (Autonomous),Visakhapatnam
We like stories because they are entertaining. They also have several other underlying benefits like developing language skills, creativity, thinking process etc. among children. Story telling was used traditionally to share and transfer knowledge, information, ideas, wisdom etc. between generations.Indian epics are an example of this. They have been passed on to varous generations through ages. This is the significance of the story telling, both anthropologically and evolutionary.
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Popular answers (1)

18th Nov, 2013
Lynn Carol Miller
University of Southern California
You might be interested in a chapter we (Read & Miller) wrote for an edited volume by Wyer in an Advances in Social Cognition (1995), entitled, "Stories are fundamental to meaning and memory: For social creatures, could it be otherwise?" We argued that for human beings, social knowledge is at the center of the cognitive system, and knowledge of physical objects is understood in terms of their relationship to the social. From this perspective we argued that stories are central to the human cognitive system because they capture the essence of social interaction, the structure of human action. After elaborating on this argument (drawing upon work from anthropology, linguistics, psychology including developmental psychology, primatology, and cognitive science), then we discussed the role of stories in conversations and why the complexity of social interaction drove the development of stories and why they were so significant in human evolution.
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All Answers (19)

18th Nov, 2013
Zeiri Asma
University of Carthage
I like stories! I think peoples love to hear that in another life everything can be beautiful, and there is always a beautiful end of story! which is not true in the real life. Stories are escape from real life may be.
18th Nov, 2013
Feng XU
Chinese Academy of Sciences
I agree with you that in the stories people don't need to worry about themselves and generally speaking, most stories have a happy ending. So people can enjoy the happiness but don't need to take any responsible for this.
18th Nov, 2013
Lynn Carol Miller
University of Southern California
You might be interested in a chapter we (Read & Miller) wrote for an edited volume by Wyer in an Advances in Social Cognition (1995), entitled, "Stories are fundamental to meaning and memory: For social creatures, could it be otherwise?" We argued that for human beings, social knowledge is at the center of the cognitive system, and knowledge of physical objects is understood in terms of their relationship to the social. From this perspective we argued that stories are central to the human cognitive system because they capture the essence of social interaction, the structure of human action. After elaborating on this argument (drawing upon work from anthropology, linguistics, psychology including developmental psychology, primatology, and cognitive science), then we discussed the role of stories in conversations and why the complexity of social interaction drove the development of stories and why they were so significant in human evolution.
5 Recommendations
19th Nov, 2013
Anindita Bhadra
Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Kolkata
We might have evolved a liking for stories because stories are an efficient means of communication, and of transferring information and knowledge. Imagine a society that develops language and wants to have some way of holding on to important information, ideas, beliefs, traditions, etc. A well told story can go a long way to ensure this. In fact, in India, the entire Vedic system was propagated through "Shruti" the vocal means of communication, where the teacher spoke and the student heard and remembered. It was much later that the script was developed. Stories hold information by putting them in context which one can relate to, and that is why we remember stories better than dry statements read in text books.
3 Recommendations
19th Nov, 2013
Emilia Soroko
Adam Mickiewicz University
Psychological perspective highlights, among other things, the potential of fulfilling important human needs.
Baumeister, R. F., Wilson, B. (1996). Life stories and the four needs for meaning. Psychological Inquiry, 7, 4, 322-377.
20th Nov, 2013
Louis Brassard
''Perhaps because theory of mind is so vital to social living, once we possess it we tend to imagine minds everywhere, making stories out of everything. A classic 1944 study by Fritz Heider and Mary-Ann Simmel, then at Smith College, elegantly demonstrated this tendency. The psychologists showed people an animation of a pair of triangles and a circle moving around a square and asked the participants what was happening. The subjects described the scene as if the shapes had intentions and motivations—for example, “The circle is chasing the triangles.” Many studies since then have confirmed the human predilection to make characters and narratives out of whatever we see in the world around us.''
2 Recommendations
20th Nov, 2013
Chintamani Jadhav
CSIR Unit for Research and Development of Information Products
Yes, its very interesting discussion and i agree with Anindita, that we remember stories better than dry statements.
I think behind each story there is some purpose, and we listen story to get motivated, entertained, information, idea and many more things. Before reading any story we expect any of above thing from that story. Some people read story for motivation and some for entertainment purpose. Now days entertainment is more focused area behind purpose of reading any story or watching any movie. The rational reason behind this is, all people just want to get relaxed from their daily hectic schedule.
What story really did, it hypnotize person who is reading or listening or watching story and let him to get relax from his daily schedule and allow him to think differently.
20th Nov, 2013
Chintamani Jadhav
CSIR Unit for Research and Development of Information Products
For my interest i would like to know, with respect to psychology of people which type of stories public demanded more e.g. love story, motivational, biography, fiction etc.
and WHY?
20th Nov, 2013
Chintamani Jadhav
CSIR Unit for Research and Development of Information Products
Thank you Larisa, i asked such question because i just want to know the generally which topic people love to read. Yes i agree it depend upon age, gender, mood and many more.
Can you suggest any article and your opinion which give information about how to write story and on which theme to get popularity to your story.
21st Nov, 2013
Chintamani Jadhav
CSIR Unit for Research and Development of Information Products
Thank you Larisa.
I suppose we like stories because a story is a simple and archetypal systematization of our emotion.
6th Dec, 2013
Prashant Kulkarni
Centre for Infectious Diseases in India
Stories create an interest in knowing the process and the end result. Story telling is an art to involve the listener in the talk. That's why story-telling approach is an important part of qualitative research. Through stories researchers try to understand the context of culture through the process narrated by the community members on a specific topic. It helps you to better understand the community perspective as well as the cultural practice followed.
2 Recommendations
6th Dec, 2013
Louis Brassard
Stories are not equally interesting. We do not like all stories. Some of them are not worth remembering. Those that have proven by being remember for a long time that they were worth remembering are the one we really love. We love them because they reveal us to ourself, this revelation is the joy we feel reading them.
1 Recommendation
30th Dec, 2013
Laurence A.J. Smith
St Peter's College, Birmingham, UK
"Story telling is an art to involve the listener in the talk" I agree with Pashant.
One type of story that is not often heard about, is the dilemma tale where the storyteller gives an open ending to their tale and the listeners are invited to give their conclusions.
When I first heard one of these I was astonished by how many ideas people had for the conclusion of the tale. Everyone had heard the story in a slightly different way and brought to it their own experiences.
7th Jan, 2014
Saileela Modem
St.Joseph's College for Women (Autonomous),Visakhapatnam
We like stories because they are entertaining. They also have several other underlying benefits like developing language skills, creativity, thinking process etc. among children. Story telling was used traditionally to share and transfer knowledge, information, ideas, wisdom etc. between generations.Indian epics are an example of this. They have been passed on to varous generations through ages. This is the significance of the story telling, both anthropologically and evolutionary.
1 Recommendation

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