Why Facebook Posts Are More Memorable Than Other Online Writing

Why Facebook Posts Are More Memorable Than Other Online Writing

A study conducted by Warwick University sheds light on how human memories prefer short, natural snippets over polished content.

Kyana Gordon
  • 12 february 2013

According to a new study conducted by Warwick University, human memory has a stronger affinity to Facebook-style posts than human faces or book exercepts. Published in Memory & Cognition, the research paper titled, Major Memory for Microblogs outlines how human memory prefers online stream of consciousness writing over the polished form in edited work. In detail, the resulting research compares memory retention of Facebook updates to book excerpts and faces.

In the first experiment, thirty-two participants from the University of San Diego were randomly assigned to assess their memory for Facebook posts and their memory for books. Facebook posts were made anonymous and devoid of any photos or intended context and the results showed that each participant was able to recall them almost two times better than the edited material taken from books.

Lead author, Dr Laura Mickes of the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick explains:

We were really surprised when we saw just how much stronger memory for Facebook posts was compared to other types of stimuli. These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory.

Other experiments examined the reasoning behind all of this. One might assume that of course Facebook posts are easier to memorize as they are tidbits of information or gossip. The study, however suggests something else is happening. Essentially, the human mind has a better capacity to recall and store online posts because they are in ‘mind-ready’ formats – meaning they are off the cuff, natural and much more like human speech.

You can preview the specifics of the research study for yourself here: Major Memory for Microblogs


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