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Abstract

This study examined whether using the first-person narrative while telling another’s story and whether stories at different levels of meaningfulness influences people’s empathy for others, interpersonal relationships, as well as perception of community atmosphere. While few studies have directly analyzed the effect of using a first-person narrative, the present study gives a theoretical and empirical account of why first-person narration of retelling another’s story can lead to more empathy and better relationships at the individual, biological, and social level. Twenty-six university students participated in the Story Exchange, a storytelling intervention program offered by a non-profit organization called Narrative 4. Participants completed an online questionnaire before and after the story exchange. Using mixed-method analyses, results of the study suggested a positive influence of story meaningfulness and first-person narrative on empathy, perspective-taking, personal connections, both within the exchange group and the school community in general. The findings of the study can not only narrow the gap between storytelling and empathy research, but also help people design more effective empathy interventions to improve perspective-taking and social relationships.

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