Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Showing Off or Showing How? On Bicycle Blog Exhibitionism
As a graduate student, I once devised an experiment where participants were given sentences to read that contained identical information, but were phrased either in the first person ("I placed the shoe in the bedroom"), in the third person ("She placed the shoe in the bedroom"), or in the passive voice ("The shoe was placed in the bedroom"). When asked questions about the information later ("Where is the shoe?"), participants recalled it best when that information had been embedded in first person sentences. An interesting side-effect of this, was that people also tended to give more elaborate answers about the first person sentences, frequently adding extra information. For example: "The shoe is in the bedroom, on the rug by the dresser." To me, this means that the first person voice encouraged the reader to use their imagination more, essentially re-enacting the sentence in their mind and picturing themselves taking the shoe to the bedroom. Where would they have put it? Apparently on the rug, by the dresser.