The Experimental Humanities Lab, founded by Fritz Breithaupt in 2011, currently has more than a dozen student members. Their research focuses on narrative events, including work on empathy, moral reasoning, emotions, side-taking, alibis and excuses, violence, and surprise.
With the aim of closely examining human stories while building a catalog of basic narratives, the lab uses a variety of methods to study narrative thinking, including serial reproduction. To do this, they play the telephone game with thousands of people.
A recent sample study documents this effort. Instead of focusing strictly on the accuracy of how a story is transmitted (as in most previous research on story transmission), the lab looks at the affective dimension of retellings—particularly the audience affect of surprise. One conclusion? “We found that people retell some affects better than many facts.”
If you are interested in learning more about the lab, including how to join it, contact Fritz Breithaupt.
View the study Visit the Experimental Humanities Lab website