Research Talk by Jennifer Escalas, Vanderbilt University (US)
We have all likely experienced a feeling of being completely transported by a novel, a piece of music, or a film. The rest of the world seems to fall away, and we are become lost in another world. In the final presentation of the Research Seminar Series for the Winter Semester, Dr. Jennifer Escalas of Vanderbilt University presented some of her latest research on the role that such transporting narratives play on consumers. Although popular entertainment varies greatly in the degree to which it presents meaningful themes, there appears to be an increasing desire amongst consumers for meaningful narratives. Narratives that present some grand theme of life, some significant aspect of human relationships, or some personal challenge are precisely those which allow us to be transported. Such transporting narratives are increasingly being used in marketing communications.
In her first presentation, Dr. Escalas presented evidence from five studies that when a consumer is transported by a meaningful narrative in marketing communications, it increases eudemonic appreciation. Eudemonic, from the Greek eu ‘good’ and daimōn ‘guiding spirit’, refers to that which brings us happiness. Eudemonic appreciation differs from hedonic appreciation in Dr. Escalas’s model, in that hedonic appreciation comes from that which simply gives us pleasure while eudemonic appreciation comes from that which may make us sad or angry, but which we nevertheless appreciate because it deals which some meaningful theme. The film, Schindler’s List, for example, is not likely to make us happy, but we appreciate it nevertheless because it deals with a meaningful theme. Dr. Escalas’s studies show that if a consumer is transported by marketing communications, the consumer’s eudemonic appreciation also increases, and, in turn, the consumer’s valuation of the object presented in the marketing communications.
In the Ph.D. seminar, Dr. Escalas elaborated on the theme of narratives. Dr. Escalas presented work showing that the need for narratives is deep within the human psyche. Although reviewers of scientific research are trained to be objective when reviewing manuscripts, they are nevertheless human beings. Dr. Escalas shared with the students the importance of creating a narrative with the students’ own scientific writing in order to draw in their readers and enhance the likelihood of their work being published. On behalf of those in attendance, we would like to express our gratitude to Dr. Escalas for her presentations and say that were indeed transported by her work.