I have been having discussions with several people on these issues recently. I don't feel I have got to the bottom of this, but have reached the following tentative hypothesis. Each of us has a number, perhaps a small number, of themes with which we are most able to resonate in print fiction, plays, and movies so that we can be fully engaged and moved by the story. An exemplar theme is the detective story of the English kind in which (as I heard explained by P.D. James many years ago at an Edinburgh Festival) a crime has been committed that rends the fabric of society. The reader finds this disturbing and can engage in a story in which a somewhat other-worldly detective discovers the culprit, so that people can get back to living harmoniously with each other. In this kind of story, justice and trust are the warp and weft of the societal fabric. It's these that are damaged, and these that are mended by the end of the story. This kind of story appeals most (according to this hypothesis) to those who, perhaps as children, experienced injustice and perhaps loss of trust in a sibling or a parent in ways that were very disturbing. A murder is of course striking. And the trail of clues needs to be, of course, interesting. But murder is a trope that stands for the damage to society. The trail of clues is the grammar of the plot. The idea that the detective enables us to see the world in non-obvious ways is part of the issue, but the soul of the matter is the sense of damage that needs be put right. Without that we wouldn't read stories of this kind. We would do crossword puzzles.
Thinking about the resonances I have experienced in my reading and writing, I have become aware that one very activating theme for me is a protagonist coming to recognize another person in a way that enables a meeting of minds, and thereby enables the protagonist to love that person. The novel that I remember being most moved by as an adolescent was George Orwell's Nineteen-eighty-four, not for the political aspects (though these were of course interesting), but for the love in unpropitious circumstances between Winston and Julia, which ended for them in the tragedy of separation. I am also very affected by love stories in which there is a separation and a reunion, and stories in which a love is discovered that echoes a previous love.
Orwell, G. (1949). Ninetten eighty-four. London: Secker and Warburg.