Storytelling works. With their experiment “Significant Objects”, Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn have impressively and simply demonstrated the influence of storytelling on the price of even mundane products. On eBay, they auctioned items that they had previously bought in ram racks and flea markets, including a bucket, a yo-yo or a tile with the number four on it. The average purchase price of the first 100 products was $ 1.29. On average they were auctioned for 36.12 USD. Where did the price increase of over 2,700 percent come from? From stories.
The two initiators have hired professional authors who wrote a fictional narrative description for each subject. The difference between the selling price and the purchase price is, from the authors’ point of view, the objective value of the story. A plastic panpipe, for example, had a value of one US dollar. A story has raised the auction price to $ 63.50.
What effect stories have on our actions brings us above all to the question of why we as human beings tell stories at all. The most important function since the earliest times of cave painting up to the 21st century is to share experiences that prepare us for real life. Stories are like a catalog of possibilities for action, for situations that we have not yet experienced, or a “flight simulator for our brain”. They provide simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act), for example, for a purchase.