Once upon a neuron: The science of storytelling

Research shows why storytelling is more than a buzzy catchphrase in content marketing.

BY Beth Gaston
Content Director

“Storytelling” has long been a buzzy catchphrase in the content marketing space, and for good reason: When done right, it works. Any topic, no matter how technical or esoteric, becomes more consumable if presented within an effective narrative structure—usually with the ROI to prove it.

But why? A 2018 report from Ipsos Connect and Marketing Land offered biological insights to explain the science behind the success of quality storytelling.

Plots have a natural progression from beginning to end. These journeys create tension, which means better engagement.

The story format itself is more likely to stir emotional reactions, from laughter to sadness to self-reflection. This emotional connection leads to improved information retention.

Good stories capture an audience’s attention in a way that can impact heart rate and release oxytocin, a hormone associated with feelings of empathy and generosity.

Our brains react to metaphors, creating a neurological experience that sticks. Words that describe physical experiences activate sense and motor cortices as we comprehend the language itself.

Content marketing has long claimed to be an art and science—and now we know it wasn’t kidding about the science part.

Sources: Marketing Land, Psychology Today, The Drum, Ad Age

published: May 06, 2019

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