Narrative Networks (Archived)
Why do people accept and act on certain kinds of information while dismissing others? Why are some narrative themes successful at building support for terrorism? What role can narratives play in causing—and helping to treat—Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)? These questions deal with the role narratives play in human psychology and sociology, and their answers have strategic implications for defense missions.
DARPA launched the Narrative Networks program to understand how narratives influence human cognition and behavior, and apply those findings in international security contexts. The program aims to address the factors that contribute to radicalization, violent social mobilization, insurgency, and terrorism among foreign populations, and to support conflict prevention and resolution, effective communication and innovative PTSD treatments.
Narratives may consolidate memory, shape emotions, cue heuristics and biases in judgment, and influence group distinctions. To determine their influence on cognitive functions requires a working theory of narratives, an understanding of what role they play in security contexts, and an examination of how to systematically analyze narratives and their psychological and neurobiological impact.
Narrative Networks has three parallel tracks of research and development:
Develop quantitative analytic tools to study narratives and their effects on human behavior in security contexts;
Analyze the neurobiological impact of narratives on hormones and neurotransmitters, reward processing, and emotion-cognition interaction; and
Develop models and simulations of narrative influence in social and environmental contexts, develop sensors to determine their impact on individuals and groups, and suggest doctrinal modifications.