An Empirical Analysis of Subjectivity and Narrative Levels in Weblog Storytelling Across Cultures


  • Reid Swanson USC Institute for Creative Technologies
  • Andrew S. Gordon USC Institute for Creative Technologies
  • Peter Khooshabeh he Army Research Lab West
  • Kenji Sagae UC Davis Department of Linguistics
  • Richard Huskey The Ohio State University School of Communication
  • Michael Mangus UC Santa Barbara Institute for Creative Biotechnologies
  • Ori Amir UC Santa Barbara Institute for Creative Biotechnologies
  • Rene Weber UC Santa Barbara Department of Communication



Storytelling is a universal activity, but the way in which discourse structure is used to persuasively convey ideas and emotions may depend on cultural factors.  Because first-person accounts of life experiences can have a powerful impact in how a person is perceived, the storyteller may instinctively employ specific strategies to shape the audience's perception. Hypothesizing that some of the differences in storytelling can be captured by the use of narrative levels and subjectivity, we analyzed over one thousand narratives taken from personal weblogs. First, we compared stories from three different cultures written in their native languages: English, Chinese and Farsi. Second, we examined the impact of these two discourse properties on a reader's attitude and behavior toward the narrator. We found surprising similarities and differences in how stories are structured along these two dimensions across cultures. These discourse properties have a small but significant impact on a reader's behavioral response toward the narrator.