Freshmen: Why do we tell stories?, Study of Apparent Behavior

Today we wanted to answer the question why do people tell stories?

We started off with me showing you a short video. After watching it two or three times, you wrote down your answer to the question “What happened in the picture?”

After we discussed what we wrote, I had you flip over the sheet of paper and you watched the same video, this time answering nine very specific questions:

1) What kind of person is the big triangle?
2) What kind of person is the small triangle?
3) What kind of person is the circle?
4) At one point the big triangle and the circle were together inside the box. What was the big triangle doing?
5) Why did the circle go into the house?
6) In one part of the picture, the big triangle and
the circle were in the house together. What did the big triangle do then? Why?
7) What did the circle do when it was in the house with the big triangle?
8) In one part of the picture the big triangle was
shut up in the house and tried to get out. What did the little triangle and the circle do then?
9) Why did the big triangle break the house?
After we discussed our answers with each other I gave some background about why we did this. This movie and these questions came from a 1944 psychology study called “The Study of Apparent Behavior,” which showed that most people who watch this movie came up with stories to explain the shapes’ movements, rather than using plain geometric terms. As a class we talked about why this could be, journaling to the question “Why do we tell stories?”

After some brief talking we looked at the beginning of the article “The Art of Immersion: Why Do We Tell Stories.”

We ended class writing to the question “Can you think of a story you know that was told to help us make sense of the world around us, or a story that is/was told to pass on knowledge or an understanding about the world?”


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