University of Southern California
Narrative Group USC Institute for Creative Technologies

About the Narrative Group

The Narrative Group investigates storytelling and the human mind, exploring how people experience, interpret and narrate the events in their lives. We pursue creative research at the intersection of computer science, psychology, and communications. Our projects range from basic science research to advanced prototype development.

The Narrative Group is led by Andrew S. Gordon, and includes Reid Swanson, and Ph.D. students Christopher Wienberg and Melissa Roemmele.

Project: Heider-Simmel Interactive Theater

In 1944, Fritz Heider and Marianne Simmel published the results of their study of behavior explanation, now a classic work in the field of social psychology. Subjects were shown a short film depicting the motion of two triangles and a circle, and then asked to describe what happened. These subjects responded with creative narratives that ascribed humanlike goals, plans, beliefs, and emotions to the moving objects in an anthropomorphic manner. In our research, we model behavior interpretation and narrative generation as a process that combines data-driven recognition and generation techniques with logic-based abductive reasoning using a formal theory of commonsense psychology. Try our web applications, Triangle Charades and the Heider-Simmel Interactive Theater.

This ONR-funded effort is a collaboration with Jerry R. Hobbs of the USC Information Sciences Institute.

Project: Data-driven Interactive Narrative Engine

The combinatorial explosion of authoring costs remains a barrier to long-form immersive interactive narrative. We are pursuing a novel solution to this problem, where the consequences of user actions are determined not using hand-authored models, but by adapting the narrative content in a corpus of linear narrative text.

This 3-year project is being conducted for the U.S. Army as part of the mission funding of the USC Institute for Creative Technologies.

Project: Narrative and Neuroscience: Interpretation of Moral Narratives

We observe structural differences in the way that Americans, Iranians, and Chinese storytellers write personal stories, and hypothesize that these differences are factors in the persuasiveness of narratives that appeal to moral concerns. In this research effort, we investigate this hypothesis with a series of behavioral experiments. In an effort to improve the identification of moral concerns in newswire stories, we explore new methods for knowledge-driven classification of moral concerns using probability-ordered propositional abduction.

This 1-year project is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Research Lab, in collaboration with the UCSB Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies.

Past projects

Project: Neurobiology of Narrative Framing (2012-2015)

Project: Narrative Evidence for Author Retrieval (2013-2014)

Project: Authoring Realistic Learning Environments with Stories (2011-2013)

Contact the Narrative Group

Andrew S. Gordon
Institute for Creative Technologies
University of Southern California
12015 Waterfront Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90094-2536
Phone: (310) 574-5700
Fax: (310) 574-5725