Baby, Remember My Claim

If you want to make the findings of your scientific study seem more important, simply give the effect a catchy name to help people remember. A study just published online in Psychological Science found that naming research findings boosted their perceived importance, but only if people assume the name is to aid memory.

On the other hand, if people thought the name was to ease understanding, the results of the study were perceived as less important than un-named findings.

The research, led by marketing psychologist Aparna Labroo, showed through a number of experiments that the effect happens because a name makes us feel we’re mentally processing the information better – the data just seems easier to deal with.

When we assume this feeling of ease is because the results have stuck in our mind, we perceive them to be more important, but when we assume it’s because they’re easily understandable (too easy perhaps?), we unconsciously downgrade their importance.

Rather cannily, the researchers have labelled their findings the “name ease effect” and they finish their scientific paper with a short tongue-in-cheek commentary on their choice of name.

We call our finding the name-ease effect with some reservations. If you are now thinking about whether you understand our finding, our act of merely naming it will increase your perception of how well you understand the effect, making you feel you probably knew about it all along. Note that the name we used does not provide information about exactly what the effect is and when, why, or for whom it occurs. Nor does other research suggest that merely naming a finding should evoke feelings of ease or that, depending on the attributions made, it can increase or reduce perceptions of the importance of the research. Thus, we hope that as you recollect the effect we described, you find it memorable.

 

pdf of full text of scientific article.
Link to study summary and DOI entry.

3 Comments

  1. Posted August 10, 2010 at 1:56 am | Permalink

    Does this explain why acronyms are so important in business and the military?

    Acronyms aid memory, generally denote the empty set, yet allow or facilitate numerous conversations.

  2. Posted August 10, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    This is like branding. But for naming the research or finding, it should be thought and perceived in the long-run. Most important findings are remembered by their names.

  3. Posted August 11, 2010 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    On a related note, I think the most important thing about a paper is often the title. A good title means you get remembered by people who don’t bother to read it, or only skim it, meaning citations galore eventually…


Post a Comment

Required fields are marked *
*
*

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 23,572 other followers