World Storytelling Day 2017

Storytelling comes in many forms these days but whether you prefer to read, watch, or listen in, we can all agree that stories help us share our experiences and connect to each other in an unparalleled way. At Springer Nature, our preferred method of sharing stories is through the Springer Nature Storytellers program. As today is World Storytelling Day, we’re taking a moment to appreciate the science behind storytelling, our favorite medium for telling stories, and the remarkable scientists who have shared their stories with us.

The Power of Storytelling

In a guest post from the Director of our partner organization, The Story Collider, Liz Neeley cites the work of psychologist Susan Fiske who discovered that the public respects scientists but doesn’t necessarily trust them. Our perceptions of strangers are influenced mainly by two factors; competence and warmth. While scientists ranked high in competence, they received low scores in warmth.

That’s where the power of storytelling comes in. When we hear a story, one of the primary emotions that our brain experiences is empathy. By opening up and sharing a personal story, scientists actively melt the cold reputation that they often develop with the public.

Your Brain on Podcasts

We all have our favorite podcasts. They’re a fantastic way to stay entertained during our daily commute and can be an excellent opportunity to fit some new knowledge into our day. Podcasts are an especially great channel for science communication. Even the most complex scientific research can be made accessible to the public when unpacked in a brief radio segment. But did you know that listening to stories actually alters your brain chemistry?

In an April 2016 article titled “This is Your Brain on Podcasts,” The New York Times cited research published in our very own Naturehighlighting how both hemispheres of the brain quite literally light up when listening to a podcast—“A living internal reality takes over the brain.” Hearing one word will activate your brain’s entire network for that word. When we listen to stories specifically, our brains release more oxytocin, which is associated with empathy, as mentioned above. The power of podcasts lies in the way they hook our emotions and fire up our minds, activating the brain’s semantic network. Information we hear becomes more memorable; research becomes more impactful.

Listen to our podcast library here!

The Voices of Springer Nature Storytellers

We are fortunate to get to work with so many brilliant researchers, helping many of them find their storytelling voice for the first time. If you or someone you know has published with Springer Nature and has a story to tell, please get in touch by sending an email to stories@beforetheabstract.com. We want to hear your story!

 

“I realized that some stories aren’t meant to be shared on paper, they’re meant to be shared out loud; precisely the personal kinds of stories that scientists don’t usually tell.” –Susan Hough, seismologist, US Geological Survey
“To offer advice to anyone contemplating doing this — in two words: do it. And when you do, focus on the personal aspects and let the science take a back seat.” –Kaspar von Braun, astrophysicist, Lowell Observatory

More About Storytelling

Check out Parts 1, 2 and 3 of our Practical Storytelling Series for tips and advice on how you can use storytelling to communicate your research with a wider audience.

And for further reading on storytelling from Springer Nature, take a look at the books, chapters, and articles linked below:

The Essential Role of Storytelling in the Search for Truth (Scientific American) (2017)

The Art of Storytelling (2016)

“The Physics of Love ©”: using humor and storytelling to open minds and hearts to green values (2014)

Storytelling: Critical and Creative Approaches (2013)

Storytelling in the Digital Age (2013)

Storytelling (2010)

 

Leave a Comment