Research that examines the process of storytelling and connections to health
What is Interactional Storytelling?
I have long argued that more research should focus on the process of storytelling - or the communicative manifestation of narratives. Interactional storytelling refers to the communicative processes that animate the sense-making of participants in joint storytelling episodes. My colleague, April Trees, and I set out to understand the processes relevant to making sense of family difficulty during joint storytelling episodes and identified four sets of behaviors. These Interactional Sense-Making (ISM) behaviors include engagement (warmth and involvement), perspective-taking (attentiveness and confirmation), turn-taking (dynamism and distribution), and coherence (organization and integration) (see Koenig Kellas & Trees, 2005). ISM behaviors - or the ways in which families or couples jointly communicate to tell a shared story - have been linked to family satisfaction, functioning and perceptions of supportiveness (Koenig Kellas, 2005; Trees& Koenig Kellas, 2009) and decreases in perceived stress for husbands whose wives engaged in higher levels of communicated perspective taking (Koenig Kellas, Trees, Schrodt, LeClair-Underberg, & Willer, 2010). In short, we make sense of life together - often through storytelling. The ways in which we do that affects and reflects individual and relational health.
Selected Interactional Storytelling Research
Koenig Kellas, J., Baker, J., Minniear, M., & Cardwell, M. (2020). Communicated perspective-taking (CPT) and storylistening. Testing the impact of CPT in the context of friends telling stories of difficulty. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. Koenig Kellas, J., Carr, K., Kranstuber, H., & DiLillo, D. (2017). The Communicated Perspective-Taking Rating System and links to well-being in marital conflict. Personal Relationships, 24, 185-202.
Koenig Kellas, J., Kranstuber, H., Willer, E. K., & Carr, K. (2015). The benefits and risks of storytelling and storylistening over time: Experimentally testing the expressive writing paradigm in the context of interpersonal communication. Health Communication, 30, 843-858.
Koenig Kellas, J., & Trees, A. R. (2005). Rating interactional sense-making in the process of joint storytelling. In V. Manusov (Ed.) The sourcebook of nonverbal measures: Going beyond words (pp. 281-294). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Koenig Kellas, J., & Trees, A. R. (2006). Finding meaning in difficult family experiences: Interaction processes during joint family storytelling. Journal of Family Communication, 6, 49-76 This publication is consistently rated in Journal of Family Communication’s Top 10 most cited articles in a 3-year period.
Koenig Kellas, J., Trees, A. R., Schrodt, P., LeClair-Underberg, C., & Willer, E. (2010). Exploring links between well-being and interactional sense-making in married couples’ jointly told stories of stress. Journal of Family Communication, 10, 174-193. Received 2010 Journal of Family Communication Article of the Year Award.
Koenig Kellas, J., Willer, E. K., & Trees, A. R. (2013). Communicated perspective-taking: Spouses’ perceptions of each others’ behaviors during stories of marital stress. Southern Communication Journal, 78, 326-351.