Stories Sway Our Decisions

Last month, I attended a writers conference where Lisa Cron presented a master workshop on how neuroscience discoveries can help your story telling (and your writing). I had to leave early for an appointment, but Ms. Cron’s ideas about the importance of story telling and how stories influence our everyday decisions stuck with me.

So, I looked her up when I got home and found a TEDx talk by her. The video is a little more than 17 minutes long, but worth watching just for the share pleasure of discovering that stories–and therefore writers (hyberbole added by me)–are more important than we think.

In Ms. Cron’s words:

“We turn to stories not to escape reality; we turn to stories to navigate reality.”


“If you can’t feel emotion, you can’t make a single rational decision.”

“The Power of story is yours, use it wisely.”


  • Erin says:

    Love this video. I have always referred to reading good books as “escaping reality.” Lisa Cron just gave me a new perspective.

  • JaimeRWood says:

    When I was a kid, I wrote a short story about a planet created by a spider god. Only this spider god wasn’t perfect, as we expect our gods to be, but rather was made imperfect by his emotions. The citizens of this planet feared him because his decisions weren’t entirely rational, but depended on his emotional state. Turns out my story was total hogwash. :)

    The part of the video I found most interesting was the story about the guy who was unable to make decisions after the emotional area of his brain was damaged. It’s true that, all else being equal, we depend a lot on emotion to make good decisions.

    • I think I may have worked for your spider god in a few of my previous jobs. :-)

      I too liked the story about needing emotions to make decisions. When I was younger, I always second guessed myself if I felt strongly about a choice but couldn’t rationalize it with data and evidence. Now, I listen intently to my gut reaction to something or the “vibe” I get when faced with a decision. I like that Lisa Cron gave me the data and evidence that validates my emotional decision making.

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