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Description: Stories play a fundamental role in human culture. They provide a mechanism for sharing cultural identity, imparting knowledge, revealing beliefs, reinforcing social bonds and providing entertainment that is central to all human societies. Here we investigated the extent to which the delivery medium (audio or visual) of a story affected conscious and sub-conscious engagement with the narrative. Although participants self-reported greater involvement for watching video relative to listening to auditory scenes, they had stronger physiological responses for auditory stories including higher heart rates, greater electrodermal activity, and even higher body temperatures. We interpret these findings as physiological evidence that the stories were more cognitively and emotionally engaging when presented in an auditory format. This may be because listening to a story is a more active process of co-creation (i.e. via imagination) than watching a video.

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