Narratives: Understanding How Consumers Use and Respond to Stories


Special issue of the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research; Deadline 1 Jan 2021

POSTING TYPE: Calls: Journals

Author: James Ellis


Issue Editors: Jennifer Edson Escalas and Anne Hamby
Call for Papers | Journal of the Association for Consumer Research | Volume 9, Issue 2

In order to make sense of what goes on in the world, consumers naturally think about things, people, and events in the form of narratives. By constructing stories, consumers organize their experiences, create order, explain unusual events, gain perspective, and make evaluations. Understanding how narrative thought affects consumers is thus critically important, including how consumers use narrative processing to interpret their interactions with products, brands, services, other consumers, and experiences. Advertisers are implicitly aware that telling a good story is key to effective marketing communications. And with the rise of social media, where consumers influence each other’s brand evaluations as much as or more than companies do, understanding consumer generated stories is equally important.

The central goal of this issue is to bring together novel research that advances the understanding of how consumers use and respond to narratives, whether it be consumers’ own consumption-related narrative processing, their response to externally presented narratives in the context of marketing communications, or their use of narratives to persuade others. We define narratives broadly, as stories focused on the goals, actions, and struggles of a character over time. Our goal with this special issue is to advance our knowledge and understanding of narratives, in both the lives of consumers and their use by marketers. Relevant topics include but are not limited to:

Narrative Content

  • What is the influence of different structural, emotional, or thematic aspects of narrative content?
  • Are there systematic differences in the content included in promotional narratives?
  • What types of themes do consumers’ stories about their experiences contain?
  • Can short social media stimuli evoke narrative transportation?
  • What types of stories should brands tell about their products, and when?

Narrative Context

  • How does product type or service context shape the narrative persuasion process?
  • Does the medium (digital, face-to-face; on-package, via customer service representative) or modality (spoken, written) through which a story is communicated make a difference?
  • How does storyteller authenticity, credibility, and/or motivation affect the narrative persuasion process?
  • What is the role of individual differences in responding to narratives? Some examples include expertise, affect intensity, fantasy proneness, transportability, political affiliation, culture, ethnicity, race, age, education, gender, etc.

Narrative Processing

  • How do consumers use narrative processing to understand their experiences with products, brands, or services?
  • What is the role of emotion, imagery, and character identification in narrative processing?
  • What role do the different aspects/components of narrative transportation play in narrative persuasion?
  • What are consumer motivations to create, recall, and share stories related to consumption, and how do these motivations influence choices and experiences?

Narrative Effects

  • When are narratives less (more) effective than other types of promotional messages?
  • How do narratives and narrative processing influence consumer well-being?
  • How do different sources shape consumers’ responses to promotional narratives?
  • Is narrative processing better suited to influence some behavioral outcomes relative to others?

Manuscripts that help to answer questions such as these and/or shed light on the theoretical and practical implications of narratives for consumers and marketers are welcomed. We encourage different methodological approaches, including traditional experiments, field studies, qualitative methods, text analytics, archival data analysis, quantitative methods, and mixed methodologies.

Editorial Timeline

Submission portal opens: November 1, 2022
First submission deadline: January 1, 2023
Publication: April 1, 2024


Submitted manuscripts should not exceed 8,000 words. Submissions will receive double-blind peer review. Author guidelines can be found online on the JACR Guidelines for Authors page. Authors who would like additional information are encouraged to contact the co-editors at or

Editor bios and submission instructions can be found here: