Friday 11 January 2019

Research Bulletin: Do Stories Satisfy Core Human Motives?

Stories, and transmission of information through stories, is one of the most universal aspects of human communication. But what role does it play in our lives and how does it relate to our core motivations? In this brief theoretical article, Costabile, Shedlosky-Shoemaker, and Austin (2018) set out to demonstrate how stories promote social and psychological wellbeing by satisfying core motivations. As a starting point, the authors adopt Susan Fiske’s (2010) five core social motivations: belonging, understanding, control, self-enhancement, and trust. These are essential social needs that each person desires in order to feel complete. Costabile and her colleagues argue that stories, both autobiographical stories and entertainment narratives, satisfy all five core motivations. The article is broken up into sections for each of the core motives, and in each section empirical evidence is presented to support the relationship between stories and the core motive in question.  
In conclusion, the authors propose that this article helps bring together research on narrative with more traditional social psychological research. Moreover, they believe that narrative approaches can be of use in other areas of social psychological research, such as intergroup relationships and overcoming resistance to persuasion. 


Costabile, K. A., Shedlosky-Shoemaker, R., & Austin, A. B. (2018). Universal stories: How narratives satisfy core motives. Self and Identity, 17(4), 418-431.

Fiske, S. T. (2010). Social beings: Core motives in Social Psychology (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley.

Post by Connor LaForge.

* For a copy of the original article, please contact R. Mar (see profile for e-mail).

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