Study: How Digital Media May Change the Way You Think
In a new study, researchers reveal that reading comprehension and problem solving success were affected by the type of reading platform, either digital or non-digital, used.
The study, published in the in the proceedings of ACM CHI '16, the ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, was done in hopes to better understand if processing the same information on one platform or the other would trigger a different baseline "interpretive lens" or mindset that would influence construal of information.
"There has been a great deal of research on how digital platforms might be affecting attention, distractibility and mindfulness, and these studies build on this work, by focusing on a relatively understudied construct," said lead author Geoff Kaufman, an assistant professor at the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, in a statement.
In order to determine if there is a relationship between reading platforms and construal cognition, researchers conducted four studies. More than 300 volunteers with age ranging from 20 to 24 years old participated in the studies. Each study was then joined by 60 to 100 participants.
In conducting their studies, researchers are careful in making most of the variable to be as constant as possible. For example, the same print size and format was used in both the digital and non-digital platforms.
In one of the studies, participants were asked to read a short story by author David Sedaris on either a physical printout (non-digital) or in a PDF on a PC laptop (digital), and were then asked to take a pop-quiz, paper-and-pencil comprehension test.
After analyzing the results of the test, researchers found out that participants using the non-digital platform scored higher on inference questions with 66 percent correct answers on the abstract questions, compared to 48 percent of correct answer of those using the digital platform.
On the other hand, participants using the digital platform scored better on concrete questions with 73 percent correct, as compared to those using the non-digital platform, who had 58 percent correct.
When the participants were asked to read a table of information about four, fictitious Japanese car models on either a PC laptop screen or paper print-out, and were then asked to select which car model is superior, 66 percent of the participants using the non-digital platform have reported the correct answer, while only 43 percent of those using the digital platform got the correct answer.