Cool Story Bro: Understanding The Compelling Factors Of Personal Stories
MetadataShow full item record
Stories surround us in our lives. We are constantly reminded of their importance. Clearly, stories serve some sort of powerful function for the human psyche. Stories shed light on human behavior in a multitude of ways, but the specific elements that make personal stories central to humanity are still largely unknown. If these elements could be better actualized, understood, and harnessed, the applications could lead to the betterment of people’s lives on both an individual and communal scale. I hope that my study will add to the cultural and psychological conversation regarding the power of story, and that new understanding can be transformed into tangible, practical ways of harnessing story for humanistic purposes. The current study is a highly exploratory first step in examining the elements that make personal stories compelling to other people. We employed ideas from different areas within psychology such as autobiographical memory, text processing, and linguistics to investigate these elements. We coded 48 existing personal stories from The Moth podcast along various dimensions and collected data on people’s experiences while listening to the stories. We combined these datasets to understand if the who, what, and how elements of stories predicted whether listeners found the Moth stories compelling. Though not all story factors analyzed were significant predictors of compelling-ness, many of our measures were found to influence listeners’ experience and subsequent ratings. Our results suggest that what makes a personal story compelling depends on a variety of elements including who, what, and how the story is being told.