TEDxDelft 2016 | Max van Duijn | Why we tell stories

MAXV7695“There is something spectacular about stories from the perspective of my research,” said Max van Duijn. Through talking, people send out various verbal and non-verbal signals. But something changes when stories are told.

Van Duijn started talking around his first birthday, and he has been fascinated by language ever since. His current research focuses on complex mentalizing tasks relating to language and literature. This he explains as involving multiple viewpoint layers, for example: Sheila thinks that Mary believes that Peter intends …

“In a story we displace ourselves into the story world, and we experience events through a mediator or storyteller, never from our own perspective,” he said. People are emphatic, so if someone has a burden the observer feels that burden as well. “We complement our empathy with knowledge of the world in a particular setting.”

“In stories we can learn what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes,” he said. Society at present is made up of large networks, within which people build relationships and make new connections with strangers. Stories can help to relate to the people one interacts with. “Stories build our minds, so whenever you have the chance, tell a story. It will make you more human.”