New research shows that drawing pictures of words helps improve memory more than writing words repeatedly.
“We discovered a significant recall advantage for words that were drawn as compared to those that were written.
Participants often recalled more than twice as many drawn than written words.
We labelled this benefit ‘the drawing effect,’ which refers to this distinct advantage of drawing words relative to writing them out.”
In variations of the experiment in which students drew the words repeatedly, or added visual details to the written letters, such as shading or other doodles, the results remained unchanged. Memory for drawn words was superior to all other alternatives. Drawing led to better later memory performance than listing physical characteristics, creating mental images, and viewing pictures of the objects depicted by the words.
But what if you find it a struggle to draw even a half decent stickman? No problem.
The study also found that to improve memory the quality of the drawings themselves does not matter.
“Importantly, the quality of the drawings people made did not seem to matter, suggesting that everyone could benefit from this memory strategy, regardless of their artistic talent. In line with this, we showed that people still gained a huge advantage in later memory, even when they had just 4 seconds to draw their picture,” said Wammes.