Harnessing the power of cultural narratives: Parents of young children

Year: 2018

Author: Rogers, Marg

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Narratives are a powerful tool for the transfer of knowledge and culture. We engage with narratives via books, film, social media, computer games and even author our own lives through narrative. They have a profound effect on our psyche and our attitudes to messages and teachings. The transfer of information through traditional teaching and lectures is often less effective in changing a belief or understanding than by using a narrative. This paper explores the reasons behind this and examines the persuasive effect of cultural narratives. It also considers the impact of cultural narrative and rumour on parental attitudes toward key health issues for young children, including immunisation. Using initial data from a qualitative survey with parents of young children, this study explores some of the cultural narratives and rumours prevalent within their sphere. It looks at the wide variety of sources they believe have influenced their health beliefs and how that has impacted upon their health behaviours. The study also explores the extent to which their beliefs are fixed. Understanding the way humans are drawn to narrative may be beneficial to health workers, early childhood educators, family workers and those who plan health education programs. Knowledge about the way parents with young children source information to inform their health beliefs and the extent to which they believe their ideas are fixed are also beneficial to public health officials to effectively target their messages.