This pilot focuses on the study of folktales and the values they transfer. Folktales’ enduring appeal is intrinsically linked to the power of storytelling from time immemorial. Narratives are central to the construction of the self, embodied with memories, emotions, appetites and culture-based values. It is through shared, transmitted stories that we build social identities, judge right from wrong, place value on varied phenomena, and feel motivated to act according to collective beliefs.

Folktales’ motifs are timeless and fairly universal, comprising dichotomies such as good/evil, right/wrong, punishment/reward, moral/immoral, trust/distrust, male/female, etc. As Jesse Graham and Jonathan Haidt note, “people love stories. Cultures rely on stories to socialize their children, and narrative thinking has been called one of two basic forms of human cognition. Successful stories–the ones that get transmitted–are those that fit well with the human mind, particularly by eliciting strong emotions”. Albeit fictitious, folktales are important simulations of reality. The impact of such discernment goes beyond academia and can contribute to a greater sense of societal wellbeing.

The extraordinary variability of tales makes them ideal case studies for cross-cultural comparisons on social dynamics, including cooperation, competition, or decision making. We seek to demonstrate how folktales represent a valuable yet often neglected repository of information for studies about human nature, wellbeing and social dynamics through a cross cultural perspective.

Past of Values

In various forms, be it myths, legends or folktales, stories are a big part of cultural heritage. In the second pilot we will analyze values and morals conveyed in a selection of Grimms' tales across time (19th to present) and space (Portugal, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and Slovenia) focusing on both the reception of the original versions, and also on national adaptations of each tale type, following the ATU numbering/indexing system. We will use advanced processing techniques to identify moral patterns and reveal values and ideas present in these stories, creating a digital map of their evolution.

Present of Values

We will use the findings of the analyses to create an educational program for museum visitors concerning these values. The program will be implemented in the “Fairytale Museum” of Cyprus (FTM) and other cultural institutions. The aim of the educational program is to understand the visitors’ views on how these values are present in their lives/modern society, and the extent to which they identify (or not) with the transmitted messages.