Have you ever listened to a story and become so immersed in the twists and turns and the lives of the characters that you forget about the world around you? This is the concept of narrative transportation. In Experiencing Narrative Worlds, Richard Gerrig uses the metaphor of narrative being able to transport a reader (the written word and reading being the focus of his work), or an experiencer, away from the here and now. Melanie Green and Timothy Brock developed the metaphor into a model, and van Laer et al expanded it further.

What interests me in the context of my research is whether, when an “experiencer” (lovely expression from Gerrig) returns from their journey to the narrative world, whether they come back changed and what impact that has on their experience of the origin world (i.e. their everyday world or landscape), their attitudes and behaviours.  And it looks like research suggests that this does happen. Green and Brock found that becoming involved in a narrative world could have measurable consequences, albeit with the caveat that “more research needs to be done”. In a 2021 article, Green suggested that high narrative transformation could reduce counter-arguing by creating a more open mindset for experiences. She also suggested that the experiencer’s connection or identification with the characters in a story could be helpful in narrative persuasion, and she also explored how the experiencer might engage with the narrative through the lens of their lived experiences. Specifically, she speaks of “remindings” (Strange & Leung, 1999) that identified “links between story content and the reader’s past personal or media-based experiences”: this made me think about discussions that groups could have about a story about both alignments and distance from the characters. Finally, she speaks of how the mental imagery that a narrative conjures up – what I call the “theatre of the mind” can increase the persuasive power of a story.

All interesting ideas when when thinking about senstoryscapes.

Useful reading:

Gerrig R. J. (1993) Experiencing Narrative Worlds. New Haven: Yale University Press.

Green MC, Brock TC. (2000) The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narrativesJ Pers Soc Psychol. y9(5):701-721. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.79.5.701

Green MC. (2021) Transportation into narrative worlds. In: Frank LB, Falzone P, eds. Entertainment-Education Behind the Scenes. Springer International Publishing; 87-101. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-63614-2_6

Green, M. C., & Brock, T. C. (2002). In the mind’s eye: Transportation-imagery model of narrative persuasion. In M. C. Green, J. J. Strange, & T. C. Brock (Eds.), Narrative impact: Social and cognitive foundations (pp. 315–341). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Kurt Braddock & James Price Dillard (2016) Meta-analytic evidence for the persuasive effect of narratives on beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors, Communication Monographs, 83:4, 446-467, DOI: 10.1080/03637751.2015.1128555

Lonneke Van Leeuwen, Bas Van Den Putte, Reint Jan Renes & Cees Leeuwis (2017) Do Narrative Engagement and Recipients’ Thoughts Explain the Impact of an Entertainment-Education Narrative on Discouraging Binge Drinking?, Media Psychology, 20:2, 194-220, DOI: 10.1080/15213269.2016.1142379

Strange, J. J., & Leung, C. C. (1999). How Anecdotal Accounts in News and in Fiction Can Influence Judgments of a Social Problem’s Urgency, Causes, and Cures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 25(4), 436–449.

van Laer, T., de Ruyter, K., Visconti, L. M., & Wetzels, M. (2014). The Extended Transportation-Imagery Model: A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Consumers’ Narrative Transportation. Journal of Consumer Research, 40(5), 797–817. https://doi.org/10.1086/673383

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