National Institute for Trial Advocacy

The Science of Storytelling from Intake to Verdict

On Demand
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Emerging science increasingly demonstrates that rhetoric and analytical argument rarely change opinions or beliefs. Stories do. In part, this may be because through story listeners often “tell” part of the narrative themselves.  Listeners fill causal gaps in stories with inferences drawn from their own experiences, making the story more credible – at least in their own minds.  In fact, fMRI studies show that when we are engaged in story, our brains look more like we are participants in the story than listeners.  As some writers have put it, we are simply hard-wired for story.  For this reason, a trial lawyer should be familiar with the current science of persuasion through story.  Of course, understanding the science is not sufficient.  The challenge is how to actually use stories in litigation.  Lawyers who fail to apply storytelling techniques in the litigation process, does so at their client’s peril. 

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