According to a new study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, subjects given a doodling task while listening to a dull phone message had a 29% improved recall compared to their non-doodling counterparts.
Forty members of a research panel were asked to listen to a 2.5-minute tape giving several names of people and places and were told to write down only the names of people going to a party. Half of the participants were asked to shade in shapes on a piece of paper at the same time, but paying no attention to neatness. Participants were not asked to doodle naturally so that they would not become self-conscious. None of the participants were told it was a memory test."If someone is doing a boring task, like listening to a dull telephone conversation, they may start to daydream," said study researcher Professor Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in England. "Daydreaming distracts them from the task, resulting in poorer performance. A simple task ~ like doodling ~ may be sufficient to stop daydreaming without affecting performance on the main task."
After the tape had finished, all participants in the study were asked to recall the eight names of the party-goers they were asked to write down, as well as eight additional place names which were included as incidental information.
The doodlers recalled on average 7.5 names of people and places compared to only 5.8 by the non-doodlers.
"This study suggests that in everyday life doodling may be something we do because it helps to keep us on track with a boring task, rather than being an unnecessary distraction that we should try to resist doing," Andrade added.
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