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Narrative paradigm is a concept in communication theory and was developed by Walter Fisher. The concept is adopted from the oldest form of communication – story telling. He stated that all meaningful communication is in the form of storytelling.

the narrative paradigm

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Peoples past experiences influence our need for communication and also base our behaviour. Thus narrative paradigm is very helpful in analysing the nature of human communication.

The Narrative Paradigm

Narrative is any verbal and nonverbal interpretation which is arranged logically to generate a meaning. This communication process is influenced by the experiences and other factors from the past.

The concept upholds the idea that communication happens between a narrator and the listener in the form of a story. The story includes the events that the narrator wants to communicate with the listener and does not fit in a single category.

Narrative paradigm works two principles. They are


Any content while communicating is effective only if it makes sense to the listener and coherence is the degree of sense making of a narrative.

The effectiveness in delivering a story is influenced by three factors such as

  • The structure of the narrative
  • The resemblance between stories
  • Credibility of characters


The second principle, fidelity defines the credibility or reliability of the story narrated. It is greatly shaped on the persuasion of the listener whether the person accept the story or not. A set of values is followed for accepting the reliability of the story.

The fidelity is attained by following a series of questions.

  • Are the events described really factual?
  • Has the facts been distorted while narrating?
  • The reasoning patterns followed while narrating
  • How does the argument in the story effect the decision making of the listener?
  • How are the importance of the story been narrated?


The narrative paradigm is a broad concept in human communication and it is almost impossible to conduct a study. To contradict this concept many philosophers believe that communication is not always narrative, for instance a fantasy story cannot be narrative as it is out of one’s imagination and it will alter from the principles of narration such as the structure and reliability.


The narrative paradigm is an innovative concept which reveals the nature of human communication. While considering communication as a form of an array of events, the people judge its credibility by understanding the reliability of the narrative. The studies can be further developed in understanding the human communication mechanism and can be applied to various fields.


Ryan believed in extra-terrestrial existence. He used to spend hours researching the possibility of alien invasion and its presence. So whenever any abnormality occurs, he reasons the event with the existence of extra-terrestrial being. But in his friend circle, majority rejected the idea or they didn’t listen to what Ryan’s arguments. The few interested believed.

The reason for the majority to discard the argument is due to the vagueness and mystery in the story that he narrated. People accept narrations following the principles of coherence and fidelity thus making most of Ryan’s friends rejects the idea. The few who accepted the narrative was influenced by their past experiences and other cultural backgrounds.

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Nana kwame January 23, 2014, 6:36 pm

    I think in the application,the story dat was told have some sense of coherence as the principle number 1.

  • Olefile March 24, 2015, 7:40 pm

    this website has really been helpful to me. credit must be given to you fellows.

  • tubagus October 6, 2015, 8:52 am

    thanks, its very helpful

  • Mary Christy B. Hinampas July 15, 2016, 7:45 am

    I am Mary Christy B. Hinampas, a student from Mindanao University of Science and Technology specifically in the Philippines. I am a third year college student, taking up Bachelor of Science in Technology Communication Management. In respect to you, I would like to asked some broaden information about the Narrative Paradigm theory. Practically, I’m going to discuss and present it in class I just want to assure that my explanation won’t be doubted from my audience. Any clear information and references will do.

    I hope my request will reach you.

    Thank you

  • Mary Christy B. Hinampas July 18, 2016, 2:10 pm

    How Narrative Paradigm became a study?
    What are the predictions of the theory and how it is to be controlled?

  • Brandon September 23, 2016, 8:55 pm

    What are some different types of studies that could be conducted over the narrative paradigm? I am curious because i do not see a very broad range of questions to ask people to be more informed of why they are accepting or rejecting to a specific story? Thanks!

  • terefe zeleke November 12, 2018, 9:04 pm

    thank you very much

  • Khaled Alyami January 1, 2020, 5:54 pm

    Thanks for sharing this theory.

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