How Drawing Something Can Help You Remember It Better

Writing lists as a reminder is an age old convention. May it be a grocery list, a "to do" list or a list of things to pack for an imminent trip. But when the time comes and you realize you have forgotten the list, recollecting the contents on the list could be challenging. Such is the nature of human forgettery. Ever think of drawing your grocery list? New evidence suggests that drawing helps you recall items more efficiently than writing.

Drawing Over Writing

In a study published in the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers contend that drawing helps you remember better than writing. The initial experiment presented the participants of the study with a list of simple words; for example "apple." They were directed to either write or draw the items within an allocated time of 40 seconds. After which, the participants were asked to recall the words inside a 60 seconds time frame. The results demonstrated a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn as compared to those that were written. Consequently, several trials revealed participants remembered more than 50% drawn than written words. A clear indication that drawing enhances memory relative to writing.

Other Variables

Different variables of the experiment were tested for a complete validation of the outcome. Visual imagery, picture superiority, and time constraints individually experimented. When participants were allowed to add visual details to the written words (like add-on doodles to letters), it still wasn't as effective as drawing pictures.Next, the researchers accounted for the quality of the drawings. Turns out you don't have to be a superior artist to draw something to remember it later. The quality of the drawing was irrelevant to reap the memory benefits of drawing over writing. Your clumsy illustration of lettuce apparently reminds you that you have to buy it when you are at the supermarket.Another variable that tested was the amount of time given to draw an item. The research concluded that you don't have to devote a substantial amount of time to draw something to recall later. In fact, even when participants only had 4 seconds to create their sketch, there was a considerable improvement in memory. Pictionary enthusiast might want to take note; making lists might help your game.All in all, the study proved that drawing has a sizable edge over writing when it comes to recall. The experiments conducted indicate that drawing enhances memory more than writing, across many variables. Although the reasons as to why this is the case is still a puzzle, the researchers propose that drawing improves memory by encouraging a seamless integration of semantic, visual, and motor aspects of a memory trace.