UMSI researchers find motile graphics improve recall

[Ann Arbor – 4/1/2016] Research conducted by two doctoral students in the School of Information suggests that moderate kinetic shifting of graphic elements on websites can produce a heightened awareness of content and moderately longer periods of recall.

The user’s attempt to compensate for the shifting graphics leads to heightened concentration on the text, said study principal investigator Em Aldemer, which results in the information received being processed more intensely. “In essence, it appears the way the brain reacts to distortion of certain visuals shifts the information from short-term memory into our long-term memory receptors more quickly,” she said.

Subtle movements on the flat, two-dimensional web page give the illusion of an additional dimension, similar to the motion of a boat, where the passengers have a three-dimensional sensory experience, moving not only forward, but also up and down. “Or you could think of it like being on an airplane that suddenly drops in altitude during turbulence,” said co-PI K.I. Nesia.  “We’ve all had that experience of the intense concentration and the physical awareness that follows an unexpected and precipitate descent.”

Such uses of motile graphics on websites should be used sparingly, the researchers warn, because studies have shown that this manner of manipulation will lose effectiveness over time and/or excessive exposure. They recommend confining its use to special occasions in which a particular emphasis is needed, such as the first day of the fourth month in any given year.

Posted on March 31, 2016