The Rules of Contagion looks at how everything spreads – including stories. They find social and survival stories more memorable:

Why did humans start telling stories in the first place? One explanation is that tales help us preserve useful information. There’s evidence that storytelling is a highly valued skill in hunter-gatherer societies, leading to suggestions that stories took hold in the early stages of human history because good storytellers were more desirable as mates. There are two competing theories about what sort of story-based information we have evolved to value. Some researchers suggest that stories relating to survival are most important: deep down, we want information about where food and dangers are. This would explain why tales that evoke reactions like disgust are memorable; we don’t want to poison ourselves. Others have argued that because social interactions dominate human life, socially relevant information is most useful…

They found that stories containing survival or social information were more memorable than neutral stories, with the social stories outperforming the survival ones.

February 24, 2022