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Author Topic: Why Do People Have To Tell Stories?  (Read 13449 times)
Altair
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« Reply #22: February 11, 2009, 10:22:09 am »

When I hear the story, though, my brain processes it as though the events in the story were happening to me 

Betty, you may have handed me the key here. Try this on for size:

Storytelling is possible among us humans because we have language, a direct consequence of our ability to think abstractly;

Storytelling is compelling to us humans because we have empathy, and therefore can put ourselves in the place of the characters of the story. This empathy is a consequence of our nature as social animals; we evolved to live in groups, and our range of emotions--plus the ability to recognize them in others--is essential to that strategy for living.

(Note how we so often classify stories according to the primary emotion evoked: comedy, tragedy, horror, etc.)

Because stories can tap so effectively into the full range of human emotions, they are incredibly versatile and end up seving myriad functions, from entertainment to education to social cohesion.

Storytelling became central in our early societies because they aided memory at a time when transmission of information was oral. Stories have therefore lost some of that primacy in today's world.

Other factors we've discussed in this thread--human awareness of time, etc.--probably play a part as well, but the above may be the framework for understanding what makes storytelling such a universal and essential human activity.
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