Digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought, researchers say

Digital media may be affecting our likelihood of using abstract thought, researc

A latest study has discovered that use of digital platforms for reading could alter the way an individual thinks, making him more inclined to focus on actual details rather than understanding information more abstractly.

Researchers said that the findings have come up as another wake-up call about how digital media could be affecting our probability of using abstract thought.

The US’ Dartmouth College scientists have tested the basic question whether reading the same information on a digital opposite to non-digital platform has any affect on ‘construal levels’ or not. The construal levels refer to the fundamental level of concreteness against abstractness that is used by people to perceive and interpret behaviors, actions, events and other informational stimuli.

The researchers studied the basic question of processing the same information on one platform or the other would result into a distinct baseline ‘interpretive lens’ or state of mind that would control construals of information. They tried to take into account the highest possible number of factors constant between both the platforms, digital and non-digital.

For example, reading material and other information for the study were published using the same print size and format the two versions, digital and non-digital.

The study included four studies that analyzed how each platform affected the information processing. The study contained a total of over 300 participants of the age group 20 years to 24 years.

They were told to read a short story from either a physical printout which is a non-digital platform or from a PDF on a PC laptop which is a digital platform, and thereafter were told to participate in a pop-quiz, paper-and-pencil comprehension test.

The researchers said that in the case of the abstract questions, on average participants who used the non-digital platform scored more marks in inference questions with 66% correct, than those who used the digital platform with 48% correct.


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