In their book Rework (highly recommended), Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson recommend taking some time away from your normal project to do some short projects just for fun. With that in mind, I had the idea of doing “30 Second Explanations” – short, very focused explanation videos that I could do in a few hours. Since I’m re-focusing on visual thinking in general lately, one of the first ideas for topics that came to mind was to explain the picture superiority effect.

This took a bit longer than I had hoped, but still much less time than full two or three minute explanation video.

The picture superiority effect, or pictorial superiority effect is the term that resulted from experiments that have shown that in human memory recall, pictures outperform text dramatically. When information is presented orally, after 3 days, people will only remember 10% of it. But if pictures are added, memory recall improves to 65%.

Nelson, D.L., Reed, U.S., & Walling, J.R. (1976). Pictorial superiority effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 2, 523-528.