By Khurram Aziz email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Jan 19, 2013 01:28 PM EST
A recent study claims that people's memory of Facebook posts is likely stronger than their recollection of actual faces or books.
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 easier to remember than a more high-brow piece or literature or long-form essay.
"Facebook is updated roughly 30 million times an hour so it's easy to dismiss it as full of mundane, trivial bits of information that we will instantly forget as soon as we read them," researcher Laura Mickes said in a statement reported on NBC. "But our study turns that view on its head, and by doing so gives us a really useful glimpse into the kinds of information we're hardwired to remember."
Mickes and her team took 200 Facebook status updates, took them out of their context, and showed them to 32 volunteers alongside other decontextualised lines from 200 different fiction and nonfiction books. The volunteers were briefly shown the lines on a screen and given the choice of saying whether it had been repeated from earlier in the experiment or not.
The status updates came from real people's Facebook profiles and ranged from "The library is a place to study, not to talk on your phone" to "I am 7,689 days old." The literature examples were equally prosaic, selected randomly from Amazon's newest releases and included lines such as: "Even honor had its limits," and "How did he end up in this family?"
In another experiment, the memorability of Facebook posts was measured against facial recognition with particpants shown 200 neutral faces picked from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and National Institute of Standards and Technology's facial recognition database, FERET.
In both instances, recollection of posts on Facebook was shown to be easier to remember.
"We were really surprised when we saw just how much stronger memory for Facebook posts was compared to other types of stimuli," Mickes said. "These kinds of gaps in performance are on a scale similar to the differences between amnesiacs and people with healthy memory."
The researchers suggested that knowing that the casual style of Facebook was easier to remember could help the design of better educational tools as well as offering useful insights for communications or advertising.
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