Posted by: Melissa De Lyser | October 27, 2013

Week 4: De Lyser: Narrative Theory

Fischer’s Narrative Theory, as described by Edgar and Volkman in Using Communication Theory for Health Promotion:  Practical Guidance on Message Design and Strategy, reflects the fundamental premise of The Storytelling Animal: We are all storytellers; we all relate to story

In Mediated communication of ‘sustainable consumption’ in the alternative media: a case study exploring a message framing strategy, Kolandai-Matchett describe a sustainable consumption mediated communications campaign in Christchurch, New Zealand, as having an “emotional appeal,” which was influenced by the notion of caring.  The campaign featured workers in developing countries and other negative effects of consumerism.  In essence, the campaign told a story – providing context for the need for sustainable consumption.

Stories provide the context for ideas and are an effective means of communications, particularly with regard for advocating change.  Tips from a Smoker, an anti-smoking campaign featuring Terrie Hall, a woman whose voice box was removed as part of her cancer recovery treatment, is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have influenced about 100,000 Americans to quit smoking.

While the story and the storyteller need to be compelling, there is the potential for one or both to overshadow the message.  For example, remember the YouTube video of the woman sitting on the toilet.  There was certainly a story involved there – but none of us could remember the name of the product being promoted.  When does the story overshadow the message?  How do we maintain that balance?



  1. The idea of high-sensation seekers and low-sensation seekers has always interested me. Some people are hard-wired, cognitively speaking, to take risks – high-sensation seekers — while others aren’t.

    Psychologists believe people actually have a biological predisposition for either being a high- or low-sensation seeker. The need to take risks – or not take risks – is directly tied to testosterone levels and the release of endorphins in brains. These characteristics can also be hereditary. So if you’re dad was into drag racing, you’re probably going to be into bungee jumping or something. However, all of this is controversial. Culture, culturation and society and individual license all factor in, but there is a sense all of this is biological.

    Cognition also plays a role. The idea here is that some people really like puzzles. They like to think about things until they completely understand something. Psychologists call this “need for cognition” and they use the concept as a way to understand differences in how people both seek and process information. An example of this is that some people are drawn to cognitive things in that thinking about things actually gives them pleasure. They’re motivated to seek out and understand things like puzzles. Other people don’t really get a buzz from figuring things out. They’re not really interested in that.

    So what’s the correlation here? If you’re high on one end, does it mean you’re low on the other end?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: