Restorative Narratives

Using Narrative Trajectory for Prosocial Outcomes

  • Kaitlin Fitzgerald University at Buffalo
  • Melanie C. Green University at Buffalo
  • Elaine Paravati Hamilton College

Abstract

Restorative narratives are stories that highlight how people recover from adversity. Researchers have proposed that this storytelling approach may provide a way to share negative news without emotionally overwhelming audiences. Instead, restorative narratives may decrease the need for emotion regulation processes and as a result, increase the willingness to help those in need. In Study 1, a restorative narrative elicited more positive emotions and an increased willingness to volunteer compared to a negative and control version of the same story. In Study 2, the restorative narrative again evoked more positive emotions and higher hypothetical donations to a relevant charity. Study 2 also varied the narrative ending and found that restorative narratives may need to end positively to maintain their effects.

Author Biographies

Kaitlin Fitzgerald, University at Buffalo

Kaitlin Fitzgerald is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication at the University at
Buffalo. Her research examines the cognitive and emotional processes of narrative engagement; in
particular, how certain narrative experiences may foster prosocial outcomes.

Melanie C. Green, University at Buffalo

Melanie C. Green is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University at
Buffalo.  She studies immersion into narratives and how our journeys into stories can change our attitudes
and beliefs.

Elaine Paravati, Hamilton College

Elaine Paravati received her Ph.D. in social-personality psychology from the University at Buffalo,
SUNY and is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Hamilton College. She researches non-traditional social need fulfillment, narratives, and aspects of the social self.

Published
2020-12-21
Section
Original Research