How reading narratives can improve our fitness to survive
A Mental Simulation Model
Previous research has argued that narrative is an evolutionary adaptation, offering advantages in terms of survival and reproductive successes. It is yet unclear, however, how narratives may promote our fitness to survive. Integrating developments in narrative theory, evolutionary psychology, communication science, and cognitive neuroscience, this article presents a Mental Simulation Model that explains the mechanisms through which narratives prepare us for potential life-threatening events in the future. The model proposes that the design features of narrative (setting, perspective, and action) facilitate various distinctive processes of mental simulation (transportation, identification, and action simulation). It is argued that these simulation processes are capable of enhancing our fitness to survive in distinct but complementary ways. The article offers testable propositions and discusses empirical implications.
Keywords: narrative, adaptation, mental simulation, transportation, identification, action simulation
Published online: 27 September 2018
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