Does Neuroscience Suggest a Continued Role for Paper Based Collateral in Student Recruitment?

Source: A White Paper from MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, Scott McDonald, Ph.D., Nomos Research, September 2015

What They Say

…there is an emerging body of work emanating from [the field of neuroscience] that is helping to highlight differences in the ways that our brains respond to information presented on paper compared to information presented screens. 

Key Takeaways

#1 Reading on paper is slower and deeper, while reading on screen is faster and more in “scan” mode 

#2 Paper-based reading benefits from more focused attention, less distraction, less anxiety related to interruption, multi-tasking and cognitive load 

#3 Paper-based reading is widely associated with better transfer to long-term memory and clearer comprehension 

#4 Memory and comprehension from paper-based reading is likely enriched by the multi-sensory experience of holding and manipulating paper 

#5 In the case of advertising, print advertising activates neural activity associated with desirability and reward

Our Say

Takeaways #2 and #4 may help explain why recruiters in our industry like to use paper based collateral at events.  It could be that in those critical moments of interaction with prospective students (or parents), paper actually promotes cognitive engagement from the prospect and that recruiters are intuitively aware of that effect.

Some Food for Thought

Takeaway #3 suggests readers get more from reading text on paper.  However, over the past 20 years, brochures have become less text heavy, more image oriented, as digital is used to host more detailed content.  Maybe we’ve got this the wrong way around?

Click here to learn more about The Better Brochure Project.

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