A new study by researchers from University of Warwick and UC San Diego finds that people can more easily recall Facebook posts than sentences from books or photos of faces. They theorize that our brains may actually be hard-wired for the casual, informal, gossipy language used in social networking.
PCMag’s Chloe Albanesius reported, “Your memory of Facebook posts is likely stronger than your recollection of actual faces or books, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of Warwick and UC San Diego found that the conversational and – in many cases – gossipy nature of Facebook posts makes them more ‘mind ready.’ That is, it’s easier to remember something that’s written in more informal, natural language patterns than a more high-brow piece or literature or long-form essay, for example.”
Wired’s Ian Steadman explained, “Laura Mickes and her team took 200 Facebook status updates, stripped them of their context, and showed them to 32 participants alongside other decontextualised lines from 200 different fiction and nonfiction books. The participants were shown the lines on a screen, briefly, and given the choice of saying whether it had been repeated from earlier in the experiment or not.”
The actual report in the journal Memory & Cognition noted, “In the first two experiments, participants’ memory for Facebook posts was found to be strikingly stronger than their memory for human faces or sentences from books—a magnitude comparable to the difference in memory strength between amnesics and healthy controls. The second experiment suggested that this difference is not due to Facebook posts spontaneously generating social elaboration, because memory for posts is enhanced as much by adding social elaboration as is memory for book sentences.”
ReadWrite’s Christina Ortiz explained, “Facebook posts are generated by regular people, because of that they are closer to tapping into the basic language capacities of our minds than professionally crafted sentences. If you use thoughts expressed through microblogs as an example, the natural pattern of human thinking is similar to gossip. The study claims, ‘The relatively unfiltered and spontaneous production of one person’s mind is just the sort of thing that is readily stored in another’s mind.’ Adding that while published text may be beautifully written or carefully edited, it doesn’t resonate as easily with our memory as naturally-generated information.”