Feeling Hungry? The Importance of Visual Stimulation

Driving to work last Friday, I noticed I received an e-mail on my cell. So I waited until I got to a stop light and checked it (yes, safety is important!). It was an e-mail from our office manager telling us that breakfast was coming soon. Yup, we get breakfast on Friday’s. I completely had forgotten it was Friday!

My Jeep suddenly drove a bit faster to work than normal. All sorts of physiological things started happening. My pupils dilated, my tummy growled, and the grip on my steering wheel tightened. My mind played tricks on me as I started to smell the combination of the sizzling bacon, blanketed by a yummy egg and topped off with melted cheese. I could taste the cool rainbow of fresh fruit salad, and felt all warm inside as I envisioned the smiles and brief morning cheer of my coworkers in the common area.

The car literally parked itself and a spurt of energy made my legs jolt me up the stairs and into the office, where sure enough, my visions came true. (Insert angel and harp music here.)

The mind can do wonderful things.

As my colleague Peter Bernstein, senior editor and fellow breakfast enthusiast, pointed out, “Roughly 65 percent of the population is visually dominated, i.e., most of us acquire information predominantly through visual triggers. In addition, years of knowledge transfer and recalled studies all indicate that visually conveyed information is an exponentially better way to convey information that can be recalled than information imparted using just voice or text.”

Makes sense; after all, we are generally visual learners. Most humans—from the time they are infants—have the tendency to stare at bright objects, those with patterns, and respond to stimulating visuals. During childhood and adulthood, we learn that our brains are trained to like or dislike someone or something based on physical appearance.

A study conducted in 1997 by Mehrabian and Blum tested what physical features were most attractive to the opposite sex. They presented 117 male and female university students, with pictures of 76 partners of the opposite sex with varying physical features. Upon rating the attractiveness of the pictured people, they came to these conclusions:

  • Masculinity, somewhat attractive to women, was comprised of some of the stable features (depending on your gym time) of muscularity, shoulder width, larger chest, and a bigger jaw.
  • Femininity, somewhat attractive to men, contained more changeable features of wearing makeup, longer hair, and greater femininity (in posture, body language, etc.).

(Mehrabian, A., & Blum, J.S. (1997). Physical appearance, attractiveness, and the mediating role of emotions. Current Psychology: Developmental, Learning, Personality, Social, 16, 20-42.)

So does the same then hold true when we see or get visual information and are visually stimulated by an infographic? Do we in fact retain the information quicker and for a longer period of time?

There is a high probability that we do.

So, what exactly is an infographic? According to www.dictionary.com and www.merriam-webster.com, there is no dictionary definition for the word. But to those within the marketing and content creation realm, an infographic is simply a graphic representation of information, data, or knowledge.

An infographic can make information more appealing as it relies on visuals to convey ideas, grabs your attention, presents content in a digestible format, is easy to share and access, and is arguably more memorable. Yes, memorable. Kind of like the memorable bacon, egg and cheese you’re thinking about eating right now.

Still hungry? Then how about a look a scrumptious salad complete with crunchy croutons, juicy tomatoes, tangy feta, fresh lettuce and silky round olives? Do you picture it yet? Here’s an infographic to help you out:

healthy infographic