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Modality of Communication and Recall of Health-related Information



A health warning was presented to 89 female and 19 male students aged 17-36 years via three modalities or channels of communication: a 'talking head' (video), an audiotape recording (audio) or a printed transcript (print). The verbal content of the message was identical in all three conditions. Participants' free recall, cued recall (recognition) and global recall of the message were then measured. On two separate dependent measures and a combined measure, recall was significantly (p < .005) better in both the audio and print conditions than in the video condition. No significant differences in recall were found between the audio and print conditions. These results, and those of earlier studies of modality effects on recall of information, are discussed in terms of self-pacing and distraction theories.
Modality of Communication 1
Corston, R., & Colman, A. M. (1997). Modality of communication and recall of health-related information.
Journal of Health Psychology, 2, 185-194.
Modality of Communication and Recall of Health-Related Information
Rod Corston and Andrew M. Colman
University of Leicester
A health warning was presented to 89 female and 19 male students aged 17-36 years via three modalities or
channels of communication: a “talking head” (video), an audiotape recording (audio), or a printed transcript
(print). The verbal content of the message was identical in all three conditions. Participants’ free recall, cued
recall (recognition), and global recall of the message was then measured. On two separate dependent measures
and a combined measure, recall was significantly (p < .005) better in both the audio and print conditions than in
the video condition. No significant differences in recall were found between the audio and print conditions.
These results, and those of earlier studies of modality effects on recall of information, are discussed in terms of
self-pacing and distraction theories.
Key words: channel of communication, context effects, distraction theory, modality of communication, self-
Health warnings designed to alert members of the general public to new diseases such as
AIDS, or to encourage health-related behaviours such as having one’s blood pressure
checked or avoiding cigarette smoking, are often issued in the form of short public
information or public service announcements, which are broadcast on television or radio,
published as newspaper or magazine advertisements, or issued as separate leaflets (Rice &
Paisley, 1981). Although the usefulness of such communications is often taken for granted
(e.g., Brawley, 1983; Sprafkin, Swift, & Hess, 1983), the published evidence regarding their
effectiveness is equivocal (Department of Health, 1992; Marks, 1994; McGuire, 1985;
Murphy, 1980; Schmeling & Wotring, 1980; Tyler, 1984; Warner, 1977; Winett, King, &
Altman, 1989). In a review of some 400 studies, McCarthy, Finnegan, Krumm-Scott, and
McCarthy (1984) concluded that the research had failed to establish the efficacy of public
information announcements in influencing the behaviour of their recipients. One reason for
the relative inconclusiveness of the evidence is that the specific efficacy of a public
information message tends to be obscured when – as is usually the case – it is issued as part
of a broader publicity campaign involving multiple awareness-increasing initiatives
implemented simultaneously (Hanneman, McEwan, & Coyne, 1973).
A variety of modalities or channels of communication may be used to transmit health
warnings to the public, and the particular communication modalities that are chosen may
have significant effects on the recipients’ responses to the information. Television or video
(an audiovisual modality) is generally more engrossing or involving than radio (audio) or
print (visual), inasmuch as it is perceived as more salient, commands more attention, is
generally better liked, and is regarded as more credible by the majority of recipients
(Andreoli & Worchel, 1978; Chaiken & Eagly, 1983). Furthermore, people tend to report that
they obtain more information from television than from the other mass media (Lichty, 1982;
Roper Organization, 1975, 1979), whereas objective evidence suggests that attitudes are in
fact more strongly influenced by information in the print media (Barrows, 1981; Patterson,
1980), and research has shown that written presentation generally results in greater
Modality of Communication 2
assimilation of information than audio or video presentation (Barlow & Wogalter, 1993;
Pezdek, Lehrer, & Simon, 1984; Wilson, 1974).
Experimental evidence suggests that the greater assimilation of information presented in
print than in the audio or video modalities applies only to long-term memory for information
that is relatively complex or difficult to absorb. For short-term memory, a large number of
studies have consistently shown audio presentation to be superior to visual presentation,
although the effect is restricted to terminal items (see Penny, 1975, 1989a, for reviews). For
long-term memory, audio presentation is sometimes found to be inferior (e.g., Penny, 1989b)
and sometimes superior (e.g., Conway & Gathercole, 1987; Gathercole & Conway, 1988).
There is reason to suspect that modality effects in long-term memory may be mediated partly
by message complexity. In an influential investigation, Chaiken and Eagly (1976) presented
messages of varying complexity in terms of sentence structure and vocabulary in all three
modalities. There were no significant differences in how well the simple message was
understood or remembered in the three modalities, but the complex message was significantly
better understood and recalled when it was presented in print than in the audio or video
The superior recall of complex material presented via print than video appears counter-
intuitive. One might expect an audiovisual medium to have a greater capacity to convey
information because it involves both ‘showing’ and ‘telling’ the information to the recipients,
but the recall superiority of the print modality for complex material has been replicated many
times (e.g., Barlow & Wogalter, 1993; Browne, 1978; Furnham, Benson, & Gunter, 1987;
Furnham & Gunter, 1985, 1987; Furnham, Gunter, & Green, 1990; Gunter, Furnham, &
Gietson, 1984; Pezdek, Lehrer, & Simon, 1984; Wilson, 1974; Wold, 1977).
The evidence is not entirely consistent, however. Several decades ago Williams, Paul, and
Ogilvie (1957) reported significantly better recall for abstract material presented via video
than audio, and via audio than print. More recently Stauffer, Frost, and Rybolt (1981) failed
to find any superiority of print over video in the recall of news stories, although they did find
that both print and video presentation led to significantly better recall than audio. In a later
study, Wogalter and Young (1991) reported two laboratory experiments and a field
experiment in all of which safety warnings were more effective in achieving compliance
when delivered in the audio than the print modality, with audio plus print most effective of
all. More recently still, Ogloff and Vidmar (1994) found that pre-trial publicity surrounding
an actual case involving child sex abuse had a significantly greater prejudicial influence on
potential jurors when it was presented on television than in print. None of the above three
studies manipulated message complexity, however, and this provides a possible clue to their
apparently anomalous findings. The material used by Williams et al., though abstract, dealt
with ideas that were not difficult to grasp, used simple vocabulary and sentence structure, and
was not very complex in the sense of requiring deep processing for memory encoding, and
the same can probably be said of the everyday news stories used by Stauffer et al., the very
simple safety warnings used by Wogalter and Young, and certainly the pretrial publicity
investigated by Ogloff and Vidmar, which the authors themselves described as ‘very
comprehensible’ (p. 513). The memory superiority of the print modality over video and audio
apparent applies only to material that is difficult to assimilate or to encode in memory.
The mediating effect of message complexity becomes clear in the light of various
explanations that have been offered for the superior recall of some types of material
presented in print compared to other modalities, especially video or television. Some
researchers (e.g., Furnham, Gunter, & Green, 1990) have drawn attention to various aspects
of the presentation of printed information, such as paragraphing, punctuation, and general
layout, that may help recipients to ‘chunk’ the information in a manner that has been shown
Modality of Communication 3
to facilitate learning of information that is not inherently easy to grasp (Baddeley, 1982, pp.
152-154). Another learning advantage of print, and to some extent of audio information also,
is that the recipients create their own mental images rather than having them provided ready-
made, and this in turn promotes greater depth of processing, which is known to lead to
enhanced memory (Craik & Lockhart, 1972). Evidence in support of this explanation has
emerged from research with children (Meringoff, 1980), although some commentators (e.g.,
Baddeley, 1978) have argued that the concept of depth of processing is circular inasmuch as
it is difficult to define it independently of the memorial consequences of a processing task. A
learning disadvantage of video arises from the finding that pictures may enhance memory
only when they are strikingly relevant and may actively impair memory by distracting
attention from the content of the message in other circumstances (Chu & Schramm, 1967;
Gunter, 1979). In the production of news programs, pictures of doubtful relevance are often
used to accompany stories that have to be covered because of their importance but for which
no useful visual material is available. In the audio modality, paralinguistic (that is, non-verbal
vocal) information may similarly function as a distraction and may impair memory encoding
of the verbal content of the message, although the effect is probably weaker in this case,
because research in the field of non-verbal communication has shown that paralinguistic cues
generally have less impact than visual cues (Knapp, 1992; Mehrabian, 1972).
Most important, according to some authorities (e.g., O’Keefe, 1990, pp. 184-185), is the
fact that reading is self-paced, whereas information presented in the audio and video
modalities is not. The significance of this difference is that when identical messages are
presented in different modalities of communication for experimental comparisons, with
exposure times equalized between treatment conditions for control of the extraneous variable
of learning duration, most participants who receive written messages have time to read and to
re-read the whole or part of the text, but in the other conditions the recipients have no control
over the pace of presentation and therefore do not have the advantage of repetition.
Furthermore, it is only in the print modality that the reader has some control over the order of
presentation of information, and there is evidence that the order of presentation of
information has a greater effect on recall in the audio than the print modality (Unnava,
Burnkrant, & Erevelles, 1994). The self-pacing and rearrangement properties of the print
modality may explain the learning superiority of complex material presented in print, and
they may also explain why this superiority is not apparent for simple material (Chaiken &
Eagly, 1976), because simple information can presumably be assimilated easily without
repetition or rearrangement. This explanation may also account for the apparently
contradictory findings of Williams, Paul, and Ogilvie (1957), Stauffer, Frost, and Rybolt
(1981), Wogalter and Young (1991), and Ogloff and Vidmar (1994), because the messages
used in those studies appear to have been relatively simple and easy to assimilate.
In the case of certain types of health warnings, notably those providing information about
newly discovered health risks and how to avoid them, the primary objective is to educate
people rather than to persuade them, and the proximate goal is therefore is to communicate
information that will be remembered by the recipients. Health warnings are often
unavoidably complex and relatively difficult to assimilate (McCarthy et al., 1984; Murphy,
1980; Rice & Paisley, 1981) and, in the light of the research outlined above, the modality of
communication may therefore be of prime importance in determining their effectiveness.
The study reported below was designed to examine the recall of a fictitious but realistic
health warning presented in the video, audio, and print modalities. In order to avoid some of
the problems that have arisen in earlier research in this area, the health warning contained
information that was rather complex and not easily assimilable, and the distracting effects of
irrelevant visual material were minimized in the video condition by using a specially
Modality of Communication 4
prepared audio-visual presentation in the form of a ‘talking head’ without extraneous
pictures. The effects of paralinguistic cues were equalized between the video and audio
modalities by using the same soundtrack in both conditions. Previous studies in this area have
been criticized for assessing memory using recognition measures only, which may obscure
the learning advantage of the print modality because reading requires more cognitive effort
and leads to greater depth of information processing than television viewing (Furnham,
Benson, & Gunter 1987, p. 106). In the study reported below, therefore, memory for the
information viewed, heard, or read was assessed by both free recall and cued recall
(recognition) measures. It was hypothesized in the light of earlier research and theorizing that
participants in the print condition would remember most about the health warning and that
participants in the video condition would remember least.
In a single-factor randomized design, participants were assigned to three treatment
conditions in which a realistic health warning regarding a fictitious new disease was
presented to them in one of three different modalities of communication: a video ‘talking
head’, an audio message taken from the soundtrack of the video version, and a print message
transcribed from the video and audio versions. The verbal content of the message was thus
identical in all three treatment conditions, and the paralinguistic information was identical in
the video and audio conditions. After exposure to the health warning, the participants
responded to a questionnaire designed to measure their free recall and cued recall
(recognition) of the health warning.
The sample consisted of 89 male and 19 female undergraduate students aged between 17
and 36 years who volunteered to participate. Volunteers were assigned to treatment
conditions quasi-randomly, the constraints being the volunteers’ availability for the
scheduled testing sessions and a requirement to include the same number of participants in
each treatment condition. Participants were naive as to the aims of the research but were told
that there was some form of information delivery and a questionnaire involved.
The 446-word health warning began with a statement that ‘the Department of Health has
issued the following warning against the disorder caused by a wheat mite (ANDRENIS 1B)
found in white bread’ and continued with a brief history of the disorder, a list of its main
symptoms, a summary of preventive measures, and finally an outline of treatment following
infection. The printed version was presented as a two-page document headed ‘A Health
Warning’; the video version, which lasted 4 minutes and 15 seconds, showed an actor (a
head-and-shoulders shot of a slightly balding 48-year-old man in a sports jacket and tie)
speaking directly to camera with no visual cues other than the ‘talking head’; and the audio
version was simply the soundtrack of the video version. To ensure parity of exposure time in
all three treatment conditions, participants in the print condition were allowed four minutes
and 15 seconds to read the printed version.
The dependent variable measures were incorporated into a two-part questionnaire
distributed to participants immediately after they had viewed, heard, or read the health
warning. The first part, which was designed to measure participants’ free recall of the health
warning, was simply a ruled page with the following heading: ‘In the space provided below,
write down as much of the health message as you can recall’. One point was scored for each
Modality of Communication 5
correct item of information recalled.
The second part of the questionnaire consisted of 10 multiple-choice questions designed
to measure cued recall (recognition) of the health warning. Examples of the cued recall items
are as follows: ‘The message presented to you described a type of mite. Was it (a) a white
mite, (b) a wet mite, (c) a wheat mite, (c) a bread mite? (Choose one answer)’; ‘Which five of
the following are main symptoms of the disorder: (a) nausea, (b) headache, (c) indigestion,
(d) loss of appetite, (e) blurred vision, (f) dizziness, (g) aching limbs, (h) fatigue, (i)
flatulence, (j) skin rash, (k) bloated abdomen? (Choose five answers)’. The cued recall items
were selected and modified on the basis of pilot testing to ensure that none was too easy or
too difficult to provide a wide range of scores among a student sample. One point was scored
for each correct answer, and the maximum possible cued recall score was 18.
Participants were tested in groups ranging in size from 6 to 15. Participants were told that
they were about to be exposed to a short health warning and (depending on the treatment
condition) that it would be on video, audio, or in the form of printed text. In the video and
audio conditions, the health warning was delivered to the group as a whole, that is, the
videocassette or audiocassette was played to the group. In the print condition, participants
were given individual copies of the printed version of the health warning.
Once the message had been delivered, the tape was turned off (or in the print condition
after four minutes and 15 seconds the printed sheets were collected) and copies of the
questionnaire were distributed face downward. The instructions on the questionnaire were
read aloud to the group, and questions about procedure were answered. The participants were
then asked to turn over the first lined page and to fold the body of the questionnaire behind it.
This prevented them from seeing any later cued recall questions, which contained clues that
could have helped them in the free recall section of the questionnaire. Participants were given
five minutes to write down, in their own words, as much as they could recall of the health
message. At the end of the five minutes, they were asked to complete the remaining ten cued
recall questions in their own time.
After responding to questionnaire, participants were debriefed and thanked for taking part
in the research.
Preliminary Checks
The free recall measure yielded a range of scores from zero to 22 (M = 10.37, SD = 3.90),
and the cued recall scores ranged from 4 to 17 (M = 12.66, SD = 2.05). These ranges, means,
and standard deviations turned out to be broadly comparable between the free recall and cued
recall scores, and it was therefore considered justifiable to calculate an aggregate measure of
global recall by simply summing the free recall and cued recall scores. The global recall
score is equivalent, as far as statistical results are concerned, to an unweighted mean.
Effects of Communication Modality
One-way analyses of variance were applied to test for any significant differences in free
recall, cued recall, and global recall across treatment conditions. Cell means and standard
deviations are shown in Table 1.
Table 1. Mean Recall Scores Across Communication Modality
Modality of Communication 6
Recall Video (n = 36) Audio (n = 36) Print (n = 36)
Free 8.06 (3.92) 11.22 (3.65) 11.83 (4.13)
Cued 11.61 (2.80) 13.22 (1.55) 13.17 (1.81)
Global 19.67 (6.11) 24.44 (3.97) 25.00 (5.08)
Note. Figures in parentheses in the body of the table are standard deviations.
Free recall. A significant effect due to modality of communication on free recall of the
health warning was found: F(2, 105) = 9.71, p < .001, effect size η2 = .15. Tukey-HSD
multiple comparisons (p < .05) showed that free recall of the health warning was significantly
better in both the audio and print modalities than in the video modality but that there was no
significant difference between the audio and print modalities.
Cued Recall. A similar significant though slightly smaller effect due to modality of
communication on cued recall was found: F(2, 105) = 6.67, p < .002, effect size η2 = .11.
Tukey-HSD multiple comparisons (p < .05) showed the same pattern of differences as with
free recall: cued recall of the health warning was significantly better for both audio and print
than for video, and there was no significant difference between audio and print.
Global Recall. Global recall differed significantly across treatment conditions: F(2, 105)
= 11.75, p < .001, with a modest though substantial effect size η2 = .18. Once again, Tukey-
HSD tests (p < .05) showed that there was no significant difference in global recall between
the audio and print modalities, but global recall of the health warning was significantly better
in both the audio and print modalities than in the video modality. This is hardly surprising in
view of the fact that this dependent variable is merely the sum of the other two, but global
recall in the audio and print modalities may nevertheless have turned out to be significantly
different in spite of its component elements failing to be significantly different
independently; in the even this did not happen, and the pattern of significant differences was
entirely consistent across all three dependent measures.
Modality of communication had a significant effect on free recall, cued recall
(recognition), and global recall of the health warning. Almost one-fifth of the variance in
global recall of the health warning was explained by differences in the modality through
which it was presented to the participants (effect size η2 = .18). These results confirm in
general terms the findings of several earlier investigations that recall of a complex message is
substantially affected by the modality through which it is presented, and they confirm that
this applies to a health warning of the type similar to some that are issued as public
information or public service announcements in the press and broadcasting media, although it
should be borne in mind that this conclusion is based on a single assessment immediately
following presentation of the health warning and that other factors may influence cognitive
processing over longer time periods following exposure.
The results reported above only partly confirm our hypotheses, however. In the light of
previous research and theorizing, we hypothesized that participants in the print condition
would remember most about the health warning and that participants in the video condition
Modality of Communication 7
would remember least. On each of the three dependent measures used in this study, the only
significant difference was between the video presentation, which yielded relatively low recall
scores, and the audio and print presentations, which both yielded significantly higher recall
scores. In other words, both audio and print modalities were associated with significantly
higher recall scores than video but, contrary to expectations, print did not yield significantly
higher recall scores than audio. In fact, mean recall scores for print and audio barely differed
from each other: on global recall, which provided the most general measure and also the
widest range of scores, the mean score for print (M = 25.00, SD = 5.08) was less than one
point higher than the mean for audio (M = 24.44, SD = 3.97).
The results of this investigation therefore only partly replicate those of Chaiken and
Eagly (1976), who found that their complex message was significantly better recalled when it
was presented in print than in the audio or video modalities but did not differ significantly
between the audio and video modalities. Our results confirm those of Chaiken and Eagly in
showing superior recall in the print than the video modality but fail to confirm Chaiken and
Eagly’s finding of superior recall in the print than the audio modality, and in addition our
results also show significantly higher recall in the audio than the video modality, which were
not significantly different in Chaiken and Eagly’s study.
The superior recall of complex material presented in the print modality compared to
video, on which our findings agree with those of Chaiken and Eagly (1976), has been
reported many times (e.g., Barlow & Wogalter, 1993; Browne, 1978; Furnham, Benson, &
Gunter, 1987; Furnham & Gunter, 1985, 1987; Furnham, Gunter, & Green, 1990; Gunter,
Furnham, & Gietson, 1984; Pezdek, Lehrer, & Simon, 1984; Wilson, 1974; Wold, 1977).
There is less agreement in the literature over the comparative effects of audio and video
presentations, on which our findings do not correspond with Chaiken and Eagly’s. In
particular, in two separate studies, Furnham and Gunter (1985, 1987) found significantly
higher recall scores for audio than video presentations, which is in line with the findings
reported in this article, and some other studies have reported the opposite effect, namely
significantly higher recall scores for video than audio presentations (e.g., Furnham, Benson,
& Gunter, 1987; Furnham, Gunter, & Green, 1990; Gunter, Furnham, & Leese, 1986). It
seems reasonable to conclude that the comparative effects on recall of audio and video
presentations are variable and poorly understood.
A tentative explanation is nevertheless possible. In a discussion of the effect of
communicator salience on persuasion, Chaiken and Eagly (1983) pointed out that the
presentation of a message in the video or audio modalities has the effect of drawing the
recipients’ attention to the communicator and away from the message itself, thereby
enhancing the effects of the communicator’s personal characteristics, which may be positive
or negative. The contradictory findings in the literature regarding the relative effects on recall
of video and audio presentations are explicable if we make the reasonable assumption that
communicators differ from one another in the degrees to which their visual and paralinguistic
characteristics tend to distract attention from what they say and interfere with memory
encoding of the content of their messages. Perhaps some communicators have especially
distracting forms of vocal delivery, so that recall of their audio messages is significantly
impaired relative to print (as in Chaiken and Eagly, 1976) or in some cases even relative to
video (as in some other studies cited above), whereas other communicators have styles of
vocal delivery that are not significantly more distracting than print presentation (as in the
study reported in this article and some others discussed earlier). Of course, the extent to
which a communicator’s paralinguistic behaviour is distracting depends on the particular
recipients of the communication: a strong Australian accent, for example, may be distracting
to a British or American audience but not to an Australian or New Zealand audience. In any
Modality of Communication 8
case, because of the well-established ‘visual dominance’ effect in information processing
(Posner, Nissen, & Klein, 1976), the effects of the paralinguistic cues are likely to be
swamped by those of the visual cues in the video modality.
This interpretation tends to support the distraction theory of modality effects, according
to which recall of a complex message is better following print than video presentation
because pictures, unless strikingly relevant, can actively impair memory encoding by
distracting attention from the content of the message (Chu & Schramm, 1967; Gunter, 1979).
What is required to explain the entire spectrum of findings is an additional assumption that
paralinguistic cues can have a similar distracting effect, but that this effect is variable
depending on the communicator’s vocal idiosyncrasies (and how these interact with the
audience) and is likely to be weaker than the visual distraction effect, because of visual
dominance and the fact that paralinguistic cues generally have been shown to have less
impact than visual cues (Knapp, 1992; Mehrabian, 1972).
This analysis, and indeed the empirical findings reported in this article, do not support the
most plausible explanations of modality effects, according to which it is because of the
opportunity for self-pacing or rearrangement of the contents of the message that recall of
complex material presented in this modality tends to be superior (O’Keefe, 1990, pp. 184-
185; Unnava, Burnkrant, & Erevelles, 1994). This type of explanation fails to account for the
significant recall differences between audio and video presentations reported in this article
and in a number of other studies, because neither audio nor video presentations offer any
opportunities for self-pacing or rearrangement of message content. The self-pacing and
rearrangement theories may be valid as far as they go, in fact some such mechanism is almost
bound to operate, but they do not appear to provide a complete explanation of all the
observed modality effects. Additional psychological processes are evidently at work, and the
distraction theory, suitably modified to accommodate paralinguistic effects and inter-
communicator differences, enables the variable recall differences found between audio and
video presentations to be understood.
It is worth commenting, finally, on the practical implications of research in this area.
There is persuasive evidence in the literature that a message that is complex or difficult to
assimilate is generally better recalled if it is presented in print rather than on video or
television, and the findings reported in this article confirm that conclusion strongly in the
special case of a complex public health warning. This does not mean, however, that ‘difficult’
public health warnings and other complex messages should necessarily be disseminated via
newspapers, magazines, and leaflets to the exclusion of television. The experimental findings
apply to recipients who are given equal exposure to messages presented in different
modalities and are constrained to pay attention to them, but it remains true that television is
more involving and attention-grabbing than any of the print media, and in naturalistic
conditions people may be more likely to pay heed to information presented on television
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Author Note
Rod Corston (now at Department of Psychology, Peterborough Regional College),
Department of Psychology; Andrew M. Colman, Department of Psychology.
This research was supported in part by Grant No. M71 from BEM Research. We are
grateful to Mallory Wober and Geoff Lowe for comments on an earlier version of the article.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Andrew M. Colman,
Department of Psychology, University of Leicester, Leicester LE1 7RH, UK. Electronic mail
may be sent via the Internet to
... After an early focus on audio modality and memory, educational psychology research has drifted away from the study of audio-only modality. Chaiken and Eagly (1983) and other researchers in communications and media studies (Byrne & Curtis, 2000;Corston & Colman, 1997;Green, 1981;Potter & Choi, 2006) have continued to investigate the audio modality effect in advertisements and other messages, as well as the impact of content and structural complexity on recall. Valkenburg and Beentkes (1997) explored memory retention among young students, positing the supposed superiority of audio information for creative visualization, and thus 'faulty memory', but finding that successful recall had more to do with the age of their subjects, rather than modality. ...
... Contemporary modality research (Crooks, Cheon, Inan, Ari, & Flores, 2012;Mayer & Sims, 1994;Moreno & Mayer, 1999;Mousavi, Low, & Sweller, 1995) often assumes multimedia's superiority for recall over audio-only and print materials, though this conclusion contradicts much of the research done in the communications field. Corston and Colman (1997) found that recall o f a short health warning was superior in subjects exposed to audio and print presentation, rather than video presentation. Byrne and Curtis (2000) found that their teenage subjects best recalled an identical warning presented in print. ...
... Building on the picture superiority effect and dual coding theories, Thompson and Paivio (1994) later theorized a multimedia modality effect, in which memory recency was best with groups who were exposed to pictures and sound together, rather than auditory images or images alone. This result has been contradicted by other studies -for example, Corston and Colman (1997) presented a 446 word health warning to a group of 108 young adult and adult students, measuring subjects' recall of the message based on its modality. Recall was found to be superior in both audio and print format, over video presentation, with no significant difference found between audio and print modality. ...
... Plenty of research indicates that adults do not generally seem to benefit from pictures added to verbal information, even when the condition that verbal and pictorial information is presented simultaneously (temporal contiguity) was met. For instance, adults seem to be better at content recall when information had been presented verbally (in written form) rather than audiovisually (Byrne & Curtis, 2000;Corston & Colman, 1997;DeFleur, Davenport, Cronin, & DeFleur, 1992;Furnham, Benson, & Gunter, 1989;Furnham & Gunter, 1987Wicks & Drew, 1991), and no differences were found between verbal, in this case auditory, and audiovisual presentations with regard to the recall of facts (Christie & Collyer, 2008) and local bridging inferences (Tibus, Heier, & Schwan, 2013). Tibus et al. (2013) also found that pictorial information helps university students compensate local coherence breaks in an expository film. ...
... It follows that until decoding skills are fully automated, a recipient would understand better when verbal information is provided in auditory rather than in written form. This assumption is supported by studies that did not find differences in terms of the recall of text details between written and auditory text presentations in adults who presumably are skilled decoders (Corston & Colman, 1997;Sachs, 1974;Wicks & Drew, 1991). ...
In drei Studien wurde untersucht, wie sich unterschiedliche Darbietungsformate (schriftlich, auditiv, audiovisuell (auditiv + Bilder) auf das Verständnis semantisch identischer Inhalte auswirken. Dabei interessierte insbesondere der Entwicklungsverlauf von der ersten Klasse bis zum Erwachsenenalter. Dass sich Bilder förderlich auf die Verständnisleistung auswirken können, gilt als gut untersucht (z.B. Carney & Levin, 2002). Anders als viele bisherige Studien erfassen wir Textverstehen mit impliziten Maßen, die differenziertere Rückschlüsse auf die, gängigen Theorien zufolge, zugrundeliegenden Prozesse zulassen: Textverstehen geht mit der Konstruktion von drei Ebenen mentaler Repräsentationen einher (vgl. Kintsch, 1998). Weiterhin bedeutet erfolgreiches Textverstehen, eine auf lokaler und globaler Ebene kohärente mentale Repräsentation zu konstruieren (z.B. Schnotz & Dutke, 2004). Mit einem Satz-Rekognitionstest (vgl. Schmalhofer & Glavanov, 1986) untersuchten wir, ob sich das Gedächtnis für die Textoberfläche, die Textbasis und das Situationsmodell bei 103 8- und 10-Jährigen zwischen schriftlicher, auditiver und audiovisueller (Studie 1) und bei 106 7-, 9- und 11-Jährigen zwischen auditiver und audiovisueller Darbietung narrativer Texte (Studie 2) unterscheidet. Weiterhin (Studie 3) untersuchten wir mit 155 9- und 11-Jährigen, inwieweit sich die Fähigkeit der Inferenzbildung zur Herstellung lokaler und globaler Kohärenz zwischen schriftlicher, auditiver und audiovisueller Darbietung unterscheidet. Als Indikator dienten die Reaktionszeiten auf Wörter, die mit einem über (global)- oder untergeordneten (lokal) Protagonistenziel assoziiert sind. Insgesamt zeigte sich, dass Schüler bis zu einem Alter von 11 Jahren nicht nur die Textoberfläche besser erinnern, sondern auch besser in der Lage sind ein Situationsmodell zu konstruieren, wenn einem Text Bilder beigefügt sind. Dies zeigte sich sowohl im Vergleich mit auditiver als auch mit schriftlicher Darbietung. Bei Erwachsenen zeigte sich kein Effekt der Darbietungsform. Sowohl 9- als auch 11-Jährigen gelingt außerdem die Herstellung globaler Kohärenz bei audiovisueller Darbietung besser als bei auditiver. Die schriftliche Darbietung zeigte sich im Vergleich zur auditiven sowohl im Hinblick auf lokale als auch auf globale Kohärenz überlegen.
... [11,12] Written materials are suggested to be more beneficial in informed consent process due to including more information than visual materials. [12][13][14] Studies are also available indicating that written brochures would provide a better information and better intelligibility than any cognitive-based information tool if their format, writing form, presentation are well presented. [13][14][15] Written or oral information given to the listener being confusing and unorganized leads to inadequate understanding and the listener fills in the meaning gaps by himself. ...
... [12][13][14] Studies are also available indicating that written brochures would provide a better information and better intelligibility than any cognitive-based information tool if their format, writing form, presentation are well presented. [13][14][15] Written or oral information given to the listener being confusing and unorganized leads to inadequate understanding and the listener fills in the meaning gaps by himself. With visual narration, however, by explaining the information in a specific layout and schema meaning connections are built, and comprehensibility is enhanced. ...
Objective: Patients hospitalized in Intensive Care Units (ICU) are critically ill. Sometimes informed consent for invasive procedures cannot be obtained from patients or relatives due to insufficient information. Methodology: Relatives of the patients who were being hospitalized in ICUs of state hospitals in 3 provinces in Eastern part of Turkey during year 2015, who were planned to undergo central venous catheter insertion, tracheostomy, and percutaneous gastroenterostomy (PGE) were asked to sign consent forms and these relatives were included in the study. The study groups were allocated as verbal (VeIG) and verbal-visual information groups (ViIG). The next of kin who had the right for signing was included in the study. Results: Relatives of patients were interviewed for 512 invasive procedures. For the central venous catheterization, 91.6% of the VeIG (n = 166) and 97.6% of the ViIG (n = 166) accepted the central venous catheterization interventions (n = 332), for the tracheostomy, 65.3% of the VeIG (n = 49), 85.4% of the ViIG (n = 48) accepted the tracheostomy interventions (n = 97), and for the PGE, 23.8% of the VeIG (n = 42) and 48.8% of the ViIG (n = 41) accepted the PGE interventions (n = 83). A statistically significant difference was detected between VeIG and ViIG with regard to approval and refusal rates for different interventions. When approval-refusal rates were compared with regard to education level, statistically significant difference was not detected between VeIG and ViIG with regard to approval and refusal rates. Conclusions: Using visual materials such as video in addition to verbal information provided an improvement in consent ratios regardless of education levels.
... This is consistent with the mixed findings of past studies that did not find one medium to be consistently superior to another for knowledge translation. While previous studies compared mediums with adolescents, 14,16,17 adult university students, 13,15 and clinical populations that included older adults, 24,25 only one other study has done so on a similar topic with older adults exclusively. 7 This study compared a 14-minute video with falls risk and prevention information based on research evidence with the same information in a 24-page written document, with the document containing visual images from the video. ...
Issues addressed Consumer engagement in healthcare research present with challenges, one of which is ensuring that the consumers have comprehended the often complex concepts in scientific research. This study aimed to compare how well older adult consumers understood video-based versus written and verbal description approaches to provision of information. Methods Twenty adults in the community aged 60 years and older were recruited for this study; half were randomized to receive the information via the digital story, and the other half received the same information from a written brief. Both mediums were presented via video tele-conferencing. An interviewer was present to ask questions and address queries. Results Participants who viewed the digital story requested for clarifications less frequently compared to those who received the written information. Difficulty in understanding the information rose with complexity, but providing concrete examples aided comprehension of the information. Conclusions Complex concepts benefit from the provision of concrete examples to facilitate understanding. Video-based approaches to provision of information are acceptable forms of participant engagement in research, and require less human resources to successfully convey key information and facilitate understanding of the information. Research procedures that employ large amounts of data collection and/or asynchronous methods should consider the use of video-based approaches, such as digital stories, to increase cost-effectiveness.
... Studies in the McLuhan tradition focus on "the differences in the physical modalities of video versus print and offer evidence to show that video is the most effective medium for communicating information" ( [36], p. 79). Indeed, audiovisual media such as television have been found to have a greater impact on information recall and counterarguing compared to print media [37,38]. Audiovisual media attract attention and stimulate involvement [39]. ...
Full-text available
Although several theories posit that information seeking is related to better psychological health, this logic may not apply to a pandemic like COVID-19. Given uncertainty inherent to the novel virus, we expect that information seeking about COVID-19 will be positively associated with emotional distress. Additionally, we consider the type of news media from which individuals receive information-television, newspapers, and social media-when examining relationships with emotional distress. Using a U.S. national survey, we examine: (1) the link between information seeking about COVID-19 and emotional distress, (2) the relationship between reliance on television , newspapers, and social media as sources for news and emotional distress, and (3) the interaction between information seeking and use of these news media sources on emotional distress. Our findings show that seeking information about COVID-19 was significantly related to emotional distress. Moreover, even after accounting for COVID-19 information seeking, consuming news via television and social media was tied to increased distress, whereas consuming newspapers was not significantly related to greater distress. Emotional distress was most pronounced among individuals high in information seeking and television news use, whereas the association between information seeking and emotional distress was not moderated by newspapers or social media news use.
... Outside the domain of politics, a long line of research has yielded inconclusive findings regarding the impact of video versus text on recall of factual information (e.g., refs. [8][9][10][11], engagement with and attention to message content (12)(13)(14), and opinion change (15,16). Within the political realm, the relative persuasive advantage of video versus text likewise remains an open question (17)(18)(19). ...
Full-text available
Concerns about video-based political persuasion are prevalent in both popular and academic circles, predicated on the assumption that video is more compelling than text. To date, however, this assumption remains largely untested in the political domain. Here, we provide such a test. We begin by drawing a theoretical distinction between two dimensions for which video might be more efficacious than text: 1) one’s belief that a depicted event actually occurred and 2) the extent to which one’s attitudes and behavior are changed. We test this model across two high-powered survey experiments varying exposure to politically persuasive messaging (total n = 7,609 Americans; 26,584 observations). Respondents were shown a selection of persuasive messages drawn from a diverse sample of 72 clips. For each message, they were randomly assigned to one of three conditions: a short video, a detailed transcript of the video, or a control condition. Overall, we find that individuals are more likely to believe an event occurred when it is presented in video versus textual form, but the impact on attitudes and behavioral intentions is much smaller. Importantly, for both dimensions, these effects are highly stable across messages and respondent subgroups. Moreover, when it comes to attitudes and engagement, the difference between the video and text conditions is comparable to, if not smaller than, the difference between the text and control conditions. Taken together, these results call into question widely held assumptions about the unique persuasive power of political video over text.
... However, this picture is complicated by the observation that factors like age and message content moderate the effects of communication modality on memory. In one study, for instance, people recalled health warning messages equally well in written and auditory formats, though both of these conditions yielded better recall than an audiovisual one (Corston & Colman, 1997). Another study found that 11and 13-year-old children remembered more content from a news story when it was presented on television than in print, though adults showed no such bias (Furnham, De Siena, & Gunter, 2002). ...
People regularly encounter metaphors in a variety of different communicative settings, but most studies of metaphor framing have relied exclusively on written materials. Across three experiments (N= 2399), we examined the relative power of metaphor framing in different communication formats. Participants read, heard, or watched someone report a series of metaphorically framed issues. They answered a target question about each issue by selecting between two response options, one of which was conceptually congruent with the metaphor frame. Results revealed a similarly-sized metaphor framing effect in each communication modality. Neither speaker gender nor race reliably moderated the effects of metaphor framing for audiovisual messages, though framing effects were stronger when the gender of the speaker and observer matched. We also replicated the finding that metaphors are more effective when they are extended into the response option language. These results provide new insights into the efficacy and generalizability of metaphor framing.
... print, video, radio). As a society, we tend to have a higher degree of trust in, and regard for, printed messages (Corston & Colman, 1997). While risk communications can serve a variety of functions, the focus in the present study was messages designed to inform, educate and advocate behavioural change through adoption of protective measures (Covello, Von Winterfeldt, & Slovic, 1987). ...
Full-text available
The impact of images on risk communications such as public service announcements is unknown. Whether images contained within a printed message such as a food safety warning alters the comprehension of the underlying text, has not previously been explored. The present study examined three factors of a risk communication in the print form: (1) the role images play in promoting comprehension of risk messages, (2) how demographic variables such as gender impacts message reception and (3) the need for cognition, or the degree to which some individuals are innately motivated to comprehend and understand information. Examples of risk communications in the print form are warnings on food or tobacco and alcohol warnings. In the present study, students at an undergraduate university (N = 92, 61 females, age 19.89 (SD =1.94) years, range 18–32), read risk communications with and without images. The purpose of the study was to ascertain the affect images have on message comprehension and receptivity. Comprehension was assessed by the structural knowledge test. Negative/fear-arousing images increase message receptivity and subsequent learning when accompanying printed risk communications. Gender alone did not significantly impact message receptivity, although males tended to show greater change in structural knowledge pre- to post-test. This was true especially for the negative fear-arousing images condition. Need for cognition plays a significant role in message receptivity. Nevertheless, for risk communications illustrated with fear arousing images, it appears that the need for cognition is not a necessary condition to learn the message. Further research is needed to determine how these factors impact the degree or depth of message processing.
... However, after 24 h, semantically related words taught in print better prime the learning of related words, versus words taught using audio (Van der Ven et al., 2015). Earlier research showed contradictory modality results for message recall (Byrne and Curtis, 2000;Chaiken and Eagly, 1976;Corston and Colman, 1997;Green, 1981). Mayer and Moreno's, 2003 theory of multimedia learning has influenced educational technology practices, promoting the use of audio rather than visual text in multimedia to limit cognitive load. ...
Using the context of the 2021 U.S. Capitol riot, an attack on the U.S Congress that was in response to the alleged voter fraud perpetuated by high profile Republicans, this study sought to uncover the differences in content memory (i.e., free recall and recognition) scores for both factually correct and disinformation news content. In addition, it also explored how exposure to different message modalities (i.e., text, image, and video) may exacerbate the recall and recollection of news content, especially when presented with purposely misleading information. An online experiment (n = 568) using manipulated mock news articles was conducted to gauge participants' content memory for participants exposed to either factually correct or disinformation news content. Findings showcase that while there is no significant difference in content memory scores between those exposed to disinformation and factually correct news, partisans might be more tempted to purposely remember story details that support their party regardless of whether those details are accurate. Moreover, while modality may help in aiding one's memory for information, other factors such as expectancy-violation should be integrated with existing multimedia learning theories when applying the cognitive processing logic of modality to news consumption.
A review of approximately 400 published articles, in addition to the authors' own research in the area of on-product warning label design and effectiveness, is summarized. Findings are examined for implications in the design and use of on-product warning labels for improved product safety through modification of user behavior. No scientific evidence was found to support the contention that on-product warning labels measurably increase the safety of any product. There was evidence that on-product warnings have no measurable impact on user behavior and product safety.
This study compares the relationship between comprehension and memory for text and television, and comprehension and memory for text and radio. 2 stories were edited to create 3 matched versions of each-(1) a storybook with pictures, (2) a radio version, and (3) a television version. Third and sixth graders read 1 story and were presented either the television or radio version of the other story, counterbalanced for story and order of presentation. A battery of memory and comprehension tests was administered following both the reading and the television or radio conditions. The principal result is that across a range of tasks, performance in the television and reading conditions was not significantly correlated; however, performance in the radio and reading conditions was positively correlated and generally significant. The second important finding is that the absolute levels of performance were similar in the television and reading conditions, and performance was better in both of these conditions than in the radio condition. Hypotheses are discussed to explain why performance in the television condition was not related to reading ability.
This is one of a series of investigations of the Drug Abuse Information Research Project (DAIR) being conducted at the University of Connecticut. Dr. Hanneman is chairman of the Communication Division at the University of Connecticut and a codirector of DAIR. Dr. McEwen is an assistant professor in the Division, and a codirector of DAIR. Ms. Coyne is a research assistant and M. A. candidate.
Explored the issue of the potential impact of television on the pretrial attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of 121 potential jurors. Participants were randomly assigned to receive testimony involving allegations of sexual abuse through television alone, newspaper articles, combined television and newspaper articles, or background information without testimony. Results indicate that exposure to the various media had a prejudicial impact on people, and that they were unaware of their biases. As hypothesized, television exposure and television plus print articles biased potential jurors significantly more than exposure to print media alone. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved)
An experiment was conducted to examine the effects of presentation mode, picture content and serial position upon the recall of brief television news items. Fifteen items were presented in either video or audio‐only mode to 40 subjects. Within the video mode, five items contained film footage, five contained still pictures and five consisted of the newscaster only.Recall of the items was significantly better following video presentation than after audio‐only presentation; and in the video mode, film items were recalled significantly more often than still picture items, which were in turn recalled significantly more often than no‐picture items. Significant serial position effects occurred across all items in the audio mode, and over still picture and no‐picture items, but not film items in the video mode.The results are discussed in terms of various imagery hypotheses.
A sample of 68 university undergraduates were presented with a sequence of violent and nonviolent news stories either audiovisually (via television), in audio only or in print. Subjects were tested for cued recall of story content immediately after presentation. There was a significant main effect of presentation mode: recall of news was best from print and worst in the audiovisual condition. Significant interaction occurred between sex, mode and news type: males recalled violent news better than non‐violent news, while for females the reverse was true. Males also recalled violent news much better than females in the audiovisual mode, but no such difference occurred in any other mode. Results indicate that reading the news can produce better retention than listening to or watching it. Furthermore, the presentation of violent news stories audiovisually (on videotape) can produce especially impaired memory performance among female viewers.