The Truth Never Stands in the Way of a Good Story: The Distortion of Stories in the Service of Entertainment
35 Pages Posted: 21 Nov 2006
Date Written: September 1, 2006
People are often motivated to be entertaining. Past work has shown that those given entertainment goals tell stories differently than those given accuracy goals (e.g. Dudukovic, Marsh, & Tversky, 2004). In three studies we investigate the influence of the motive to entertain on story distortion. In each study, we found that the motive to entertain was related to story distortion. For instance, participants who opened a cockroach-infested container of food exaggerated the size of cockroaches when describing the event to a confederate, and participants telling a group of peers about the first time they got drunk claimed to have been more drunk than when they told the same story to a tape recorder. Furthermore, it was also the case the distorting influence of the motive to tell a good story occasionally occurred without awareness, influencing not only their descriptions of the events but their memories of them as well.
Keywords: stories, entertainment, distortion, memory, motivation
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