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Narrative Engagement Theory

  • By: Michael L. Hecht & Michelle Miller-Day
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Narratives are a universal, pervasive, and trans-cultural mode of communication through which people organize information and their experience of the world. People's social worlds are composed of a set of stories from which they choose, and constantly recreate, their lives. Humans are, as Walter Fisher stated, storytelling beings, or “homonarrans.” As a result, narratives are a paradigm for understanding human thought and action. From drama theory to rhetorical theory to communication and public health, a narrative approach positions human beings as storytelling animals and narrative as the means by which they make sense of their experiences and themselves, organize and understand events, and recount experiences.

While there are many definitions, most frame narrative as talk organized around significant or consequential experiences, with characters undertaking some action, ...

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