Facebook posts are easier to remember than books or even faces – so much so that the difference in memory between posts and printed words is as big as the difference between normal people and amnesiacs.
In a series of experiments with undergraduate students, scientists from the University of Warwick and UC San Diego compared the memorability of Facebook posts with either human faces or sentences from books.
They also looked at whether Facebook posts might be memorable because they stimulate social thinking, such as “that is something my friend would post.”
And, they found, participants’ memory for Facebook posts was much, much stronger than for either human faces or sentences from books.
“We were really surprised when we saw just how much stronger memory for Facebook posts was compared to other types of stimuli,” says Warwick’s Dr Laura Mickes.
“These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory.”
When the team compared memory for both news headlines and sentences from stories with reader comments, they found it was the reader comments that were most memorable.
“One could view the past five thousand years of painstaking, careful writing as the anomaly,” says Professor Nicholas Christenfeld of UC San Diego.
“Modern technologies allow written language to return more closely to the casual, personal style of pre-literate communication. And this is the style that resonates, and is remembered.”