Picture Superiority Effect

We remember images far better than words

We’re visual creatures, optimized to process imagery much faster than words. We have a better recall of things learned with a visual aid than just with text.

Paivio & Csapo (1973). Picture superiority in free recall: Imagery or dual coding? Cognitive Psychology, 5(2), 176-206.

The study

Setup

142 people were split into 3 groups and were shown either 72 nouns, abstract words or pictures on a projector for a split-second each, with 5-second pauses in between. They were then asked to recall as many items as possible.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Results

Results showed that those in the picture group recalled far more than either word groups.

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Key Takeaways

Boost your message. Visual ads are remembered better in the long term than verbal ads, especially when we are under greater cognitive load (Childers and Houston, 1984). What emotional message can you convey more powerfully with a striking, visual metaphor over mere words?

Boost learning by adding in visual references. Where are you trying to change behavior? What image do you want to stick in peoples’ heads to simplify understanding?

Make product choices distinct.

Images are internalized twice, both visually and verbally (see Dual Code Theory), so they stick in the brain better than just words. This holds as long as the images aren't abstract or similar to one another (Reder et al, 2006). So if you sell a large product range that looks similar, consider modifying their design or how they're presented to heighten relative differences and create a more distinct range of choices.

Picture Superiority Effect

We remember images far better than words

We’re visual creatures, optimized to process imagery much faster than words. We have a better recall of things learned with a visual aid than just with text.

Paivio & Csapo (1973). Picture superiority in free recall: Imagery or dual coding? Cognitive Psychology, 5(2), 176-206.

The study

Setup

142 people were split into 3 groups and were shown either 72 nouns, abstract words or pictures on a projector for a split-second each, with 5-second pauses in between. They were then asked to recall as many items as possible.

Results

Results showed that those in the picture group recalled far more than either word groups.

Key Takeaways

Boost your message. Visual ads are remembered better in the long term than verbal ads, especially when we are under greater cognitive load (Childers and Houston, 1984). What emotional message can you convey more powerfully with a striking, visual metaphor over mere words?

Boost learning by adding in visual references. Where are you trying to change behavior? What image do you want to stick in peoples’ heads to simplify understanding?

Make product choices distinct.

Images are internalized twice, both visually and verbally (see Dual Code Theory), so they stick in the brain better than just words. This holds as long as the images aren't abstract or similar to one another (Reder et al, 2006). So if you sell a large product range that looks similar, consider modifying their design or how they're presented to heighten relative differences and create a more distinct range of choices.

Picture Superiority Effect

We remember images far better than words

We’re visual creatures, optimized to process imagery much faster than words. We have a better recall of things learned with a visual aid than just with text.

The study

Setup

142 people were split into 3 groups and were shown either 72 nouns, abstract words or pictures on a projector for a split-second each, with 5-second pauses in between. They were then asked to recall as many items as possible.

Results

Results showed that those in the picture group recalled far more than either word groups.

np_read_2490885_000000

In detail

Pairings

Conversion

Use distinct imagery to reduce info overload

Though words provide a great means to communicate, very quickly we can become cognitively-saturated and eventually overwhelmed or distracted.

Images, when well-presented, have the power to neatly sum up the meaning of an entire paragraph or chapter. We're hard-wired to look out for these visual cues, and better recall them over words.

Where can you provide visual imagery to help break up, summarise or support text-based information?

Branding

Bolster simplified messaging with imagery

Though simplified words can be powerful for recall, repetition and therefore virality, they can be further bolstered with a striking image or visual metaphor that brings the concept home.

A great example here is artist Shepard Fairy's HOPE poster for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential Campaign, which acquired instant recognition and a powerful wave of variations, memes and imitations. The word "Hope" alone would never travel so far.

Where can you support powerful, simplified messaging for a new campaign of behavioural change, a new product or policy with a striking image that reinforces the meaning behind your words?

Connected to

Running workshops?

Picture Superiority Effect

is included in Box One of our physical workshop tool.
is included in Box Two of our physical workshop tool.
Box One