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I think this might be suited more to a "Philosophy" section, but since there's no forum subsection for that, I'll just post here.

So a few days ago I went to a meet up where people talked about myths and proverbs, and we started to get into stories that have an indirect meaning that can influence behaviour.

(I'll just relate what they talked about. I just sat and listened because it was my first time there, and I was in digestion-mode)

One of the guys mentioned that when you give someone advice, even if it's asked for, the recipient tends to go towards.. the opposite of what you say. He also mentioned that people tend to relate more to stories than advice.

This is because stories, as opposed to advice, don't directly tell the recipient what to do, something which I think everyone hates.

Stories set the stage on a character other than the recipient, but it is also someone who they can relate to, and whatever happens to the character, the recipient can extract meaning from the story and integrate it into their own behaviour, by their own will.

An example would be.. using the computer before bed.

Advice: Don't use the computer before bed. It'll be hard for you to sleep because your eyes will be strained from watching the screen.

'Anecdote': I used to have insomnia when I was a teen. I wouldn't be able to fall asleep, so I'd just get up and use the computer and.. it became a habit. When I got into uni though, I didn't get to use the computer much but my sleep improved a lot! I later read up on a study that told me the light from the screen can strain your eyes and keep you awake for about half an hour after you stop!

Now, which is more digestible, the advice or the anecdote? What are your thoughts on this theory?

(Please note, that this isn't really fact nor a scientific theory. It was just a discussion that I thought was interesting enough to share with you guys :p)
 

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I prefer advice that is well explained. And sometimes stories are used to explain something in order to give advice to someone. Stories are good cause they are easier to understand than logical approaches and they touch peoples hearts. However, usually stories are sometimes said just so that someone express themselves and have no use at all. Like when someone complains. So, I mostly prefer both combined, advice through a story.
 

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I would have preferred the advice in a less domineering way over a long winded anecdote that could have been sum'd up in far less words.
 

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I think anecdotes can sometimes be more useful for people since telling them a story means that they have to do an extra step of interpretation/cognition to get to the advice itself, which cements it a bit more in their mind, and helps them think it was their idea. Like Kiba said though, advice doesn't have to be as much of a command as the example about the computer screens. The best choice is probably to tailor your approach to the person you're talking to, so you can use the more effective method, or a mix of both. Since it's unlikely that one is always better than the other.
 
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