How Beliefs effect Storytelling
In the previous post, Whiteboard Animation – The Power of Storytelling did mention the work of Uri Hasson particularly discussed in his Ted Talks, This is your brain on communication. There is an area that I didn’t discuss in that post and thought I’d leave it for this one. Uri and his team did one experiment that displays the effects of beliefs. They used a story by J.D. Salinger in which a husband lost track of his wife in the middle of a party. He’s calling his best friend, asking “Did you see my wife?”.
Half of the subjects they told that the wife was having an affair with his best friend. The other half were told that the wife is loyal and her husband is very jealous. This information had a major effect on the subjects. Each half had very similar brain responses to each other. But the comparison of brain responses between the groups was very different.
How this experiment applies to real life
This demonstration of the change in receiving that small piece of information at the beginning will have much more effect in real life. If you think about it the news that we read, effects how we see other things. Seeing is Believing eventually becomes Believing is Seeing. In other words we interpret things due to our beliefs. Advancements in science for example are difficult when they go against the current form of science. This creates cognitive dissonance which is trying to process things that go against your beliefs.
Beliefs inherent in cultures and upbringing
When I was working on the Zanzibari Women project this became very clear. It was vital to know their culture sufficiently to be able to apply it to the Zanzibari Women and the storytelling. You need to know your audience sufficiently well to be able to see how they will see the video. In the case of the Zanzibari Women video it would be viewed more by the outsider – universities, charities, etc. It would have been very different if the audience had been the Zanzibaris themselves.
The danger of misinterpretation
I wanted all the images sketched, but eventually I realised (after the sketching) that they were in danger of being misinterpreted. Instead I had to use photos for these. Being aware of sensitive or controversial topics and making sure that you are handling them in a neutral way is very important.
Know your audience
In conclusion, it is vital to know your audience. You need to know and understand where they’re coming from, what beliefs they have.
Benedict Hickson, CZA Studios