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Fictional narratives and stories have persisted throughout human history. However, perhaps due to a bias that stories offered nothing more than entertainment for the reader or perhaps that they are not useful outside of the realm of academia, the research within science academia has been lacking in literature on why these narratives have endured. Unfortunately, due to the lack of conversation across disciplines, particularly those of science and literature, this subject has not been thoroughly investigated through an interdisciplinary lens. Within this paper, the goal is to analyze the benefits of fictional narratives through biological, evolutionary, and neuropsychological perspectives. Research has been cross-referenced across primary and secondary sources varying from peer-reviewed scientific journals to psychological experiments. The following findings from the sources were corroborative with the original thesis that narrative goes beyond being a method of entertainment or only a thing of merit within English scholarship. Rather, stories are found to be crucial for developing empathy and Theory of Mind through the use of mirror neurons within the brain. This unique ability to build empathy allowed stories to spread within human society since it decreased the risk of free riders—those who take advantage of a society without equal contribution—and increased social bonds within the communities. In addition to these advantages, narratives provide ways to transfer information and experience that may be critical for survival. Altogether, stories are far more important to human survival and success as a species than previously considered.
Good, Elise N. and Schaab, Katharine
"The Biological Influence of Stories & The Importance of Reading Fiction,"
The Kennesaw Journal of Undergraduate Research: Vol. 9:
1, Article 3.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.kennesaw.edu/kjur/vol9/iss1/3