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The secrets behind print’s long-lasting appeal

November 24, 2017

New scientific research reveals that many people still prefer the printed word and image to the digital version.

According to ink world, a new study has shown that “92 percent of college students […] would rather do their reading the old-fashioned way” and research also shows that it isn’t just the Millennials; in fact, many people “prefer physical novels, textbooks, magazines” to their digital incarnations.

Despite our 21st century society’s continual drive to become high-tech in every area of life, it seems our nostalgia and dedication to print lives on, though new scientific research indicates that it isn’t just sentiment fueling our devotion.

Studies have revealed that “students don’t connect with digital texts in the same way they do with those in print”, finding a digital story to be “much less immersive and emotionally resonant” than a printed book. The research also showed that “those who read on paper were much more capable of placing the story’s events in chronological order”, implying a crucial link between the printed word and learning.

In addition, we have developed a different way of reading words on a screen, demonstrating a tendency to skim-read and allow our gaze to “dart around a web page”, a process which has been dubbed “non-linear reading”. This is markedly different to the “deep reading” we engage in when we read a printed text such as an academic essay or a novel.

Confirming these findings, Canadian neuromarketing firm, TrueImpact, conducted a study which showed that “reading direct mail requires 21 percent less cognitive effort than the digital alternative”, which is more conducive to “better comprehension and retention”.

In addition, significance has been found in “the physical act of turning pages”, which enables readers to “orient themselves within the plot sequence” and “map the journey in their minds”. Conversely, reading a book via a screen “prevents people from navigating […] in an intuitive manner.”

Finally, the physical act of reading a book, knowing where you are in the story and how far you still have to go, is “emotionally gratifying” and the physical processes associated with reading “deliver essential value”.

Dr. Maryanne Wolf, director of the Center for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University, explained, “I don’t worry that we’ll become dumb because of the internet, but I worry we will not use our most preciously acquired deep reading processes because we’re just given too much stimulation.” The goal is a “discerning ‘bi-literate’ brain” that understands when to deploy deep reading and when to scan and skip from one thing to another.”

 

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