A University of Warwick psychology study reveals that people tend to remember social media posts more than they can recall faces or contents of books.
Facebook Statuses vs. Book Texts
This is how Laura Mickes and her research team conducted the study: they gathered 200 status updates from Facebook, stripped them of any context-based information, and presented them to 32 participants. Aside from these 200 Facebook statuses, the participants were also shown lines from 200 fiction and non-fiction books, all of which were also de-contextualized.
The statuses and book texts were shown to each participant, who is later asked whether or not the lines had been repeated from earlier in the experimental process.
Results of the Study
Based on the results, it was found that people are 1.5 times as likely to remember a post on Facebook as a text from a book. Similarly, in an experiment on faces instead of lines from books, it was discovered that people are 2.5 times as likely to remember a Facebook post as a face from a novel.
According to Mickes, these gaps between remembering Facebook posts and book contents can be likened to differences between people that have healthy memories and those with amnesia!
Language is Key
Instead of saying that using social media is more memorable than reading a book, however, Mickes points out that the findings of their study can be attributed to the language used in the texts. When people post a Facebook status, they usually write it in a “rough” or “unpolished” manner, compared to a book which is typically edited before publication.
Mickes explains that “casual and unedited” texts are easier to remember than more formal, edited texts. Knowing this can help those engaged in communication, particularly those who create educational materials and those who design advertisements.