Category Archives: Narrative Research

March 6, 2017

The Neuroscience Behind Strategic Narrative

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/item/92517414/

Several generations of increasingly advanced science now tell us that the insights of novelists and filmmakers have an empirical basis in our brain chemistry.  This should be a clarion call for every leader, because when our stories are dysfunctional, we are dysfunctional, both as individuals and as members of groups. The machine view of humans …

August 20, 2012

Narrative Believability Trumps Probability in Decision Making

We are not statisticians by nature, but storytellers.  Why don’t we make better use of that insight in our effort to predict and understand complex problems? British economist John Kay presented the following problem in a recent Financial Times column When Storytelling Leads to Unhappy Endings: Linda is single, outspoken and deeply engaged with social issues. …

April 16, 2012

“Stand your Ground” Laws Validate Stories of Lethal Force, Silence Others

Spirit of Justice, cropped from photograph: Two sculptures "Spirit of Justice," and "Majesty of Justice," Great Hall, 2nd floor, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.

Yale Law School professor Adam Cohen, advocating the repeal of the Stand Your Ground law that permitted George Zimmerman to claim he killed Trayvon Martin in self defense, wrote in Time Magazine last week that: If Zimmerman does go to trial, there will no doubt be enormous debates over his guilt or innocence. It is …

March 19, 2012

The Definition of Strategic Narrative: an Evolving Concept in International Affairs

In an earlier post, I outlined ways in which the term strategic narrative is used in current practice,  in public relations—as an element of marketing—and in the academic field of international relations.  This post returns to the evolution of the term as an applied concept in foreign affairs. According to International Relations professor Alister Miskimmon …

February 3, 2012

Behavioral Economics Go to War

Review of Behavioural Conflict, Why Understanding People and their Motivations Will Prove Decisive in Future Conflict, by Andrew Mackey and Steve Tatham I cannot think of any books about warfare’s future that come across as hard-hitting, full of actionable pragmatism, and deeply humane all at the same time.  But Behavioral Conflict: Why Understanding People and …

January 21, 2012

The Form of National Myths

I was reminded of the tremendous elasticity of narrative forms when I recently visited the Denver Art Museum’s amazing American Indian art collection for the first time, by the  Haida storytelling pole near the entrance of the collection. The Haida is a native tribe of the Northwest coast of the United States and Canada and, …

November 19, 2011

Announcement: U.S. State Department Strategic Narratives Public Meeting

At the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, CA, November 29 From the State Department Announcement: The U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy will hold a public meeting on the topic of strategic narratives November 29, 2011, in Santa Monica, CA, in partnership with the RAND Corporation. The meeting will take place at the RAND offices …

October 23, 2011

Overconfident Narratives Skew Decision Making

In his new book, Thinking Fast and Slow, Princeton professor and Nobel Laureate Daniel Kahneman describes how, as a psychologist serving in the Israeli army, he selected candidates for officer training based on their success in a series of leadership tests.  Despite his own and his colleagues confidence in their choices, “the evidence was overwhelming”: …

October 14, 2011

Afghanistan Narrative, Still Wrong, but Reparable

Earlier this month, Benjamin Hopkins and Magnus Marsden, authors of the forthcoming Fragments of the Afghan Frontier, argued strenuously in a New York Times Op Ed that the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan is as culturally inept as it was when we went to war a decade ago. The American obsession with viewing Afghanistan though the …

July 20, 2011

Narrative in Complex Decision Making: an Interview with Mary Crannell

Mary Crannell is one of those people whose broad intelligence and enthusiasm are hard to contain, as I learned when we met recently through a shared acquaintance.  As the president of Idea Sciences, a decision-making support consultancy based in Alexandria, VA, Mary spends much of her  time thinking about what technologies and processes will help …