What makes the telenovela popular?

A particular type of consumer enjoys stories with plots, characters, and imagery that allow them to get lost in the narrative, according to a new study.

The authors wanted to understand what kinds of stories allowed consumers to mentally enter a story, a phenomenon called “narrative transportation.” They also wondered which kinds of consumers were more likely to identify with the narratives. They reviewed articles written in five different languages that dealt with the theme of narrative transportation and tested consumer reactions to those stories.

They found that consumers were most likely to engage with realistic stories with identifiable characters and plots that easily lead to mental imagery. They also identified five characteristics that made participants more able to be transported: familiarity, attention, ability to fantasize, higher education, and female gender.

“The Extended Transportation-Imagery Model: A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Consumers’ Narrative Transportation” will be published in the February 2014 edition of the Journal of Consumer Research.

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