The Narrative Arc: Quantifying the Psychological Structure of Stories

Ryan Boyd

Psychology, Lancaster University

Scholars across disciplines have long debated the existence of a common structure that underlies narratives. Using computer-based language analysis methods, several structural and psychological categories of language were measured across ~40,000 traditional narratives (e.g., novels, movie scripts) and ~20,000 non-traditional narratives (science reporting in newspaper articles, TED talks, Supreme Court opinions). Across traditional narratives, a consistent underlying story structure emerged that revealed 3 primary processes: staging, plot progression, and cognitive tension. No evidence emerged to indicate that adherence to normative story structures was related to the popularity of the story. Finally, analysis of fact-driven texts revealed structures that differed from story-based narratives.

Week 29 2019/2020

Thursday 18th June 2020

Online: join mailing list or contact organisers to receive link