They [researchers] found that consumers were most likely to engage with realistic stories with identifiable characters and plots that easily lead to mental imagery. They also identified five characteristics that made participants more able to be transported: familiarity, attention, ability to fantasize, higher education, and female gender.
"Consumers who are 'transported' are changed by their experience. People who lose themselves in a story accept the story is true and relate to the characters," the authors write. "As the Hopi proverb goes, 'The one who tells the story rules the world,' and now we know how."
You may read the whole research paper at SSRN: "The Extended Transportation-Imagery Model: A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Consumers’ Narrative Transportation."
And here's another overview at the Gartner Blog Network. Quote I will remember from the post: "[S]torytelling amplifies receptors, while attenuating resistors." Not a new hypothesis but certainly a good reminder—and some new research that is intriguing, yes?