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Why it’s easier to show a circle than to describe it.

We all understand the power of graphics. The ability of visual symbols to communicate has made them a global language for everything from road signs to the Olympics. But do we really understand why the simplest form of communication is able to achieve immediate comprehension and influence decision making. One way of unravelling this mystery is to compare describing a graphic symbol with simply showing it.

Take a circle for example. An accurate description would go something like this; a circle is a simple closed curve which divides the plane into two regions: an interior and an exterior. Science adequately explains why the visual expression beats the wordy explanation hands down. 50% of the human brain is dedicated to visual functions. The brain processes visual material all at once, but processes text in a linear fashion. Visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text. Graphics quickly affect our emotions and greatly affect our decision making. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information, images go directly into our long term memory where they are indelibly etched.

That’s why it’s easier to show a circle than describe it.

Further reading:ō

Further reading:

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