Humans are extremely interested in listening and watching stories, almost to the point of obsession. Most adults spend hours a day watching TV, reading books, going to movies, etc. And it starts very early in our lives. Even babies exhibit this behavior. They are almost hypnotic when listening to stories and watching TV. It doesn’t even have to involve communication, as stories can just be acted out silently and children are still interested. It doesn’t seem like it’s a learned behavior, as it is common in all societies, and even babies seem naturally drawn to stories. Is there a known genetic reason humans are like this?
I saw there was a gene (FoxP2) that is responsible for our ability to make multi-syllabic sounds. If that gene is damaged, then that person would struggle with longer words. Many mammals and birds also have this gene. If scientists damage that gene, then the mating songs of those animals will be made up of short, choppy sounds and will be less melodic. Scientists think this gene is important in our ability to have rich communication. It made me wonder if there’s a similar gene that plays a part in how much humans enjoy stories.
Personally, I think this behavior of enjoying stories is reason for humanities success. We can gain so much useful information through stories. The earliest communities probably acted out tales about hunting, which ended up teaching the rest of the group how to hunt. It also was a great bonding experience to bring the community together. The fact that we enjoy listening to someone else talk is a huge factor in creating a strong bond with another person. If we didn’t gain so much enjoyment from these kinds of experiences, I don’t think humans would be anywhere nearly as developed as we are now.