Tell Me a Story: The Science Behind Why Human Beings Need Narrative


We love a good story whether we are conscious of the sentiment or not. What is it about a good story–short or long–that brings us a shared experience, feelings of comfort and belonging, and satisfaction?

Storytelling content has been shared since the beginning of human history. Check out this white board motion infographic and how it brings storytelling DNA and its content marketing applications through time. As presented by

“A Whiteboard History of Storytelling,” punctuates what we know about effective content.

Effective content in all mediums–especially social media– works when it hit’s the consumer’s 4 E’s.

It Excites the consumer, Educates the consumer, Provides a customer and/or interactive Experience, and the content Engages the consumer leaving them satisfied and open to experience more similar content.

  • Effective content is crafted to reach a wide audience a la Shakespeare and Pixar.
  • Effective content is supremely social.
  • Effective content usually includes storytelling. Science informs us that people respond to motion and motion through a storytelling device because humans are able to quickly identify with what they see and hear.
  • Because of the motion component, videos and motion infographics are especially powerful. The opportunities provided through social media provide a low-cost solution to the high-priced outlet of television.
  • In a nutshell, people are wired to feel connectivity to well-told stories and the story teller themselves.

Stories not only deliver on the 4 E’s, they provide escape and diversion, they offer comfort, delight and surprise us, they give us the connection to others that we crave, and they stimulate our brains–as research tells us–in a manner that activates and capitalizes on left brain-right brain connectivity. This connectivity profoundly effects new memory creation and impressions of engagement and inclusivity in the experience of the story told.

Ultimately, the listener-viewer-consumer identifies as being a part of the story.

In Leo Widrich’s article, “The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains,” why content marketing through the storytelling vs. bullet points in a benefits listing is examined with applied science.


Our craving for a good story is hard-wired. Marketers can maximize the impact of their messages through the storytelling device.

Utilizing the audience where it lives offers opportunities to place a story in the ears and minds of a marketing target and a potentially wider group. Social media offers immediate conveyance of message. How engaging that message will be relies on the application of journalism and storytelling fundamentals that make any story a 4 E winner.

Journalism and storytelling fundamentals fit naturally with the criteria of marketing storytelling. Credibility and integrity gleaned from accurate representation of facts, personal connection demonstrated through point-of-view and individuality, relevance appreciated through human connection with character threads with which the audience can identify, and personal investment created through the feeling of story and the pleasure it creates as it moves around the human mind.

Tapping into the human craving for storytelling and story involvement is the most meaningful marketing tactic. Consider taking storytelling out for a spin the next time you develop content.





One thought on “Tell Me a Story: The Science Behind Why Human Beings Need Narrative

  1. I wrote about similiar material this week and found the 4 E’s to be quite encompassing. People have to realize they are not just putting out attractive looking content but also immersive and meaningful, it has to have narrative and context to be effective

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