Thursday, April 10, 2008

Recognition and Hyperlinks

Neat little study in the latest Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media shows that more headline/photo hyperlinks leads to greater processing and recognition of information in a news story.

There are some differences in this set of experiments.

First, they use heartbeat and other psychophysiological measures, which is cool. Nothing beats strapping a few undergraduates into a chair and measuring their response to media content. I prefer electric shocks, but that's just me. The "increased allocation of cognitive resources" from a larger display of hyperlinks, the authors say, leads to greater recognition.

Makes sense. I do wish the authors (Wise, Bolls, and Schaefer out of the j-school at Missouri) had reported exactly what questions they used to measure recall and what the Cronbach's alpha was for their 4-item index. I'm getting PhDweebish, and maybe it's in the study and I missed it, but the alpha tells us how well the four questions hung together, their internal consistency. And recognition is different than recall, both methodologically and theoretically. Not much on this.

There's some other cool stuff here, such as the literature on why we attend more to negative versus positive images, and some use of previously rated and coded images as part of the experiment. It is important to note the power of "unpleasant" images to increase attention and, we assume, recognition. That's key here, and something journalists need to pay attention to themselves.

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