Thomas Graeber, Christopher Roth and Florian Zimmermann in this voxeu post:
Not stunned to learn this. who remembers statistics?
Why do tales have a tendency to stay, whereas statistics are typically extra quickly forgotten? To make progress on this query, we begin with a easy formal framework that builds on fashions that conceptualise the cue-dependent nature of episodic reminiscence (Bordalo et al. 2021, 2023). Experiences such because the consumption of tales and statistics are saved as reminiscence traces which might be related by way of associations. Recall of those traces is triggered by contextual cues. The important thing drivers of recall are similarity and interference. The upper the similarity between a reminiscence hint and a cue, the extra probably profitable retrieval turns into. The next variety of non-target reminiscence traces which might be much like the goal hint weakens recall, as these non-target traces intervene with the profitable retrieval of the goal hint.
The mannequin can account for the story-statistic hole. The explanation tales stick based on our mannequin is that the wealthy, contextualised info contained in tales makes them distinct from non-target reminiscence traces. As a consequence, they endure much less from interference.
In tailor-made mechanism experiments, we take a look at among the core predictions of the mannequin. The next insights emerge: First, the contextual options of tales give them a bonus over statistical info and trigger the comparatively excessive recall charges. This perception can be utilized to spice up the long-run perception influence of statistics. As soon as contextual options are added to statistics, their recall charges enhance. Second, in step with the precept of interference, the story-statistic hole will increase within the whole variety of product eventualities contributors are uncovered to. Third, tales lose their edge over statistics in conditions the place contributors are uncovered to many comparable tales that compete for retrieval.
Coverage implications? Inform extra tales:
Our outcomes have ramifications for the consequences of reports protection and mass media on perception formation. The mass media cowl many matters not solely by offering info and statistics, however they regularly depend on anecdotes about particular person instances that present detailed qualitative, anecdotal info. For instance, contemplate allegations about election fraud within the context of the 2020 US presidential election, the place some retailers reported tales about particular person situations of election fraud, although these constituted uncommon exceptions.
Our outcomes additionally bear implications for a way policymakers, entrepreneurs, or leaders ought to talk with their audiences: communication of statistical info could be enormously enhanced by complementing it with contextual anecdotes. For instance, when discussing financial figures, it may be useful to supply anecdotes which might be in keeping with and related to the statistics being offered. Lastly, our analysis additionally highlights the significance of timing in persuasion: statistics and info are more practical when messaging is delivered near the viewers’s anticipated motion, whereas tales are more practical when there’s a delay concerned.
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