Let me tell you a tale...

Of the many studies we have conducted over the years there is one that I have been asked to present at conferences around the world over a dozen times, this is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation social determinants of health study. This was a study of the thoughts and feelings of Democratic and Republican congressional staffers about differing levels of health across the American population. In preparation for one of these conferences, our former client at RWJF (who is now a professor of journalism) spent some time talking through a new study conducted at Penn State that shows how narrative journalism rather than purely fact-based journalism increases empathy for marginalized groups. Some of the major implications of our social determinants of health study were that using the frames that opposition groups hold for health and delivering data through story would increase levels of support for policy initiatives designed to improve health levels in affected communities.

While not from the field of marketing, this study definitely supports what we have seen in the power of storytelling both in understanding consumers and in persuading behavior change, be it adhering to a health regimen, changing brand loyalty, or changing personal habits. The full study is available for purchase here, but this short article provides a concise overview.