Notes Psychology

Rule 9: Stimulate more of the Senses (Brain Rules)


Our senses have evolved to work together. Our vision influences hearing, for example – this suggests that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at the same time.

One set of experiments were run by the cognitive psychologist Richard Mayer proved this to be true. He divided rooms into three groups, the first gets information through hearing, another by sight, and a third by a combination of the first two senses.

He found that the groups in multisensory environments outperformed the groups in the unisensory environments when it comes to memory, similar experiments measuring creativity and problem solving showed the same results – with improvements between 50 and 75 percent.

These results are counter-intuitive, extra information while learning improves learning.

It’s like saying that if you carry two heavy backpacks on a hike instead of  one,  you  will  accomplish  your  journey  more  quickly. 

This may have something to do with giving learners more opportunity to synthesize information together. Here is a summary of how multimedia exposure affects learning.

1)  Multimedia  principle:   Students  learn  better  from  words  and pictures than from words alone.

2)  Temporal  contiguity  principle:   Students  learn  better  when corresponding  words  and  pictures  are  presented  simultaneously rather than successively.

 3)  Spatial  contiguity  principle:   Students  learn  better  when corresponding words and pictures are presented near to each other rather than far from each on the page or screen.

 4)  Coherence  principle:  Students  learn  better  when  extraneous material is excluded rather than included.  

 5)  Modality  principle:   Students  learn  better  from  animation  and narration than from animation and on-screen text.

Sensory Branding

There is an industry built on this idea – particularly with smell. One experiment showed that the scent of vanilla increased purchasing behavior in the women’s department while a smell of rose maroc, a spicy, honeylike fragrance, improved male purchasing behavior. In fact, sales doubled from their typical average in each department.

But results were disastrous when the scents were switched – that is, vanilla for men and rose maroc for women. Smell works but only when deployed in a certain way. Starbucks doesn’t allow its employees to wear perfume because it masks the coffee aroma that attracts customers.

Brain Rules (Updated and Expanded): 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and SchoolRule 9: Stimulate more of the Senses (Brain Rules) 1

"Silence is the best expression of scorn" - G.B. Shaw

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