April 18, 2021

How a Compelling Story Packs a Persuasive Punch with Melanie Green

Dr. Melanie Green is a professor at the University of Buffalo. She joined us on the podcast to explain how the power of a compelling narrative, including the effects of fictional stories, can be used to change beliefs and attitudes. Her theory of "transportation into a narrative world" focuses on how immersive storytelling is a mechanism of narrative influence.

It was an in-depth conversation that explored concepts around how stories move us, the power of narrative to affect both cognitive and emotional feelings, and how restorative narratives can be used to help heal communities after disasters. We touch on the psychological response of reactance, the appeal of conspiracy theory stories and the elements needed to create a compelling story. 

We also introduce - in a slightly more proper fashion - our production and research assistant, Mary Kaliff. We are excited to introduce Mary to our listeners and hope you will welcome her with a happy greeting on social media!

Finally, no episode of Behavioral Grooves would be complete without understanding our guest’s musical tastes. Melanie’s upbringing in Gainesville, Florida influenced her lifelong love of music, in particular the hometown hero,  Tom Petty. She’s also a fan of James Taylor, which delighted Tim. More recently, Melanie’s house is often filled with the sound of the Hamilton soundtrack, thanks to her children’s love of the musical, which delighted Kurt. So, it was wins all around. 

We hope you enjoy our conversation with Melanie and if you like it, please jump down to the bottom of your listening app and share a quick rating or a short review with us. It goes a long way in helping others decide if they should listen to Behavioral Grooves. 


0:07 Introduction 

1:00 Hello from Mary Kaliff

3:46 Welcome and Speed Round with Melanie Green

7:44 Reactance and empathy

16:25 What makes a good story?

22:26 Storytelling in different mediums

27:12 Parasocial Interaction

33:10 Storytelling for social good

38:50 Conspiracy Theories

43:07 Melanie’s music and playlist

47:30 Grooving Session


(14:13) If you do have a story that's not representative, the danger of it kind of having an undue influence on people's thinking and decision making is, I think, a real one, especially with something consequential, like these medical decisions. 

(18:21) the way that stories can inform us and change our minds, is through this process of being immersed in them.

(31:17) And so a story can be a really nice kind of way of summarizing and illustrating the guiding principles maybe that people want the organization to follow

(33:37) restorative narratives tell those stories, you know, how people move from something bad to kind of come back to a better place.

Social Media

Tim @THoulihan

Kurt @motivationguru

Mary @BeSciMary

Other Content

To listen to more podcasts about narratives and messages why not delve into these episodes:



© 2021 Behavioral Grooves


Melanie Green:  https://www.buffalo.edu/cas/communication/faculty/green.html 

The Game of Thrones: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_of_Thrones 

Story telling Mirrors in the Brain: https://www.michaelharvey.org/new-blog/2019/12/29/storytelling-mirrors-in-the-brain 

Victoria Shaffer, PhD: https://psychology.missouri.edu/people/shaffer 

The Bible: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bible 

The Koran:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran 

The Bhagavad Ghita: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhagavad_Gita 

Pamela Rutledge: https://www.pamelarutledge.com/ 

Guy Schoenecker: https://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2016/12/07/life-story-guy-schoenecker/ 

BI WORLDWIDE: https://www.biworldwide.com/careers/ 

Common Biases & Heuristics: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XHpBr0VFcaT8wIUpr-9zMIb79dFMgOVFRxIZRybiftI/edit?usp=sharing  

Jon Levy: https://www.jonlevytlb.com/ 

Mirror Neurons: Why good stories provoke empathy and connection (Kyle Pearce) https://www.diygenius.com/mirror-neurons/ 

Musical Links

Bruce Springsteen “Fire”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d5PoIrcyd34 

“Hamilton” soundtrack: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPSWZUExZ8M 

James Taylor “Never Die Young”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FbGrD4hxoBI 

Traveling Wilburys “End of the Line”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMVjToYOjbM 

Tom Petty “Don’t Fade on Me”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKUBlwVgVYc 

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