Science Storytelling & The Power of Participation

The balance of listening and speaking transforms stories through the power of participation. Storytelling is enhanced by activating conversations, enabling exchange and curating perspectives.

Your Brain on Story: What Recent Experimental Research Reveals about the Science of Story Participation
Kendall Haven, author, professional storyteller for DARPA

Previous research by Haven and others has established that human brains are evolutionarily hardwired to understand — and to make sense of — incoming narrative and experiential information through specific story terms, concepts, and informational story elements. If engagement is an essential gateway to influence, what elements control the direction and magnitude of that story influence? How do those key elements relate to each other and to variations in Target Audience? What qualitative and quantitative metrics can be used to describe story influence potential?

In this talk, Haven will discuss:
•A brief overview of his 2007 – 2012 foundational work
•Recent experiments to link internal neural “Make Sense” processing to specific story elements and to key measures of engagement,transportation, empathy, trust, and emotional involvement.
•Experiments to extend the “story structural work” to model the process of “story-based influence.”
•Examples of the application of Haven’s “Story Influence Theory” to actual corporate communication challenges.

The Spontaneous Emergence of Collective Behavior
Damon Centola, Associate Prof. in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania

The remarkable volume of online data available has given rise to an expansive field of research on social dynamics on the Internet. However, one striking limitation of big data is that it is fundamentally observational, reintroducing many of the classical problems of causality and inference found in traditional sociological and public health data.
To address these problems, Centola’s research team has pioneered the use of Internet experiments that use social media to study the casual effects of social networks on the spread of behaviors.

In this talk, Centola will discuss:
•The impact of network “topology” – the graph-theoretic structure of social ties in a network – and “homophily” – the similarity or differences between connected members of a population – on behavior change in large online populations.
•Research results on how these factors can directly alter behaviors at both the individual and collective level.

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Kendall Haven

Kendall Haven is the only U.S. Military Academy at West Point graduate to turn professional storyteller. Now a master storyteller, Haven has performed for over 6 million worldwide during his 30 year career and has led the research effort for the National Storytelling Assn. and International Storytelling Center into the architecture of effective story structure and into the process of story-based influence and persuasion. Haven was the only storyteller or story writer recruited as part of the recent U.S. Department of Defense DARPA research program to explore the cognitive neurology of how stories exert influence.

Damon Centola

Damon Centola is an Associate Professor in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Director of the Network Dynamics Group. Before coming to Penn, he was an Assistant Professor at M.I.T. and a Robert Wood Johnson Fellow at Harvard University. He is currently a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. Damon’s work addresses the theory of how behaviors spread through social networks. His research uses computational models and online experiments to study innovation diffusion, social epidemiology and cultural evolution.