Concrete material more interesting, memorable
Copy that paints pictures in readers’ minds is more effective than abstract copy, according to several studies. In fact:
- Concrete copy helps readers remember. Concrete nouns like “flag” or “map” are more memorable than abstract ones, like “justice” or “freedom,” according to research by K.A. Lutz and R.J. Lutz.
- Sentences that “show” are more engaging and interesting than “feel” sentences, according to research by James Tankard and Laura Hendrickson.
- Concrete copy is more memorable than abstract versions of the same information. And concrete modifiers are easier to remember than dull ones, according to research by J.C. Yullie and Allan Paivio.
Why? “Dual coding” may explain some of these findings, Paivio writes. The dual-coding theory suggests that people often remember ideas with words and things and feelings with mental pictures. The mental images are easier to remember than the words.
For the most interesting, memorable copy, go concrete.
Sources: Prabu David and Jagdeep Kang, “Pictures, High-Imagery News Language and News Recall,” Newspaper Research Journal, Summer 1998
K.A. Lutz and R.J. Lutz, “Effects of interactive Imagery on Learning: Application to Advertising,” Journal of Applied Psychology, August 1977
J.T.E. Richardson, Mental Imagery and Human Memory, London: Macmillan, 1980
Mark Sadoski and Z. Quast, “Reader response and long term recall for journalistic text: The roles of imagery, affect and importance,” Reading Research Quarterly, Vol.25, No. 4, Autumn 1990, pp. 256-272
James Tankard and Laura Hendrickson, “Specificity, Imagery in Writing: Testing the Effects of ‘Show, Don’t Tell,'” Newspaper Research Journal, Winter/Spring 1996
J.C. Yullie and Allan Paivio, “Abstractness and Recall of Connected Prose,” Journal of Experimental Psychology, December 1969