Storytelling as Adaptive Collective Sensemaking

Topics in Cognitive Science 11 (4):710-732 (2019)
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Bietti, Tilston and Bangerter take an evolutionary approach towards memory transmission and storytelling, arguing that storytelling plays a central role in the creation and transmission of cultural information. They suggest that storytelling is a vehicle to transmit survival‐related information that helps to avoid the costs involved in the first‐hand acquisition of that information and contributes to the maintenance of social bonds and group‐level cooperation. Furthermore, Bietti et al. argue that, going beyond storytelling’s individualist role of manipulating the audience to enhance fitness of the narrator, that these adaptive functions of storytelling may well be assigned to other forms of language use besides narration (e.g., instructional discourse and argumentation). Based on this evidence, Bietti and colleagues claim that the specific adaptive function of storytelling lies in making sense of non‐routine, uncertain, or novel situations, thereby enabling collective sensemaking.



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