SMU Research: Boys Prefer Reading on a Kindle

UPI reported about research at SMU in which middle-school boys who had been reluctant readers liked reading more after two months of using a Kindle. Meanwhile the girls in the study responded differently.

“The technology appeared to motivate the boys to read while many girls preferred the actual books,” [SMU researcher Dara] Williams-Rossi said. “It may be that they prefer curling up with actual books and that they enjoy sharing their reading with their friends.”

Because girls like to “curl up” more than boys do?

I have a Kindle, and I don’t find curling up with an e-reader to be any more difficult than with an actual book. In fact, it’s easier to do when you’re tackling a larger tome. I was recently glad to be reading The Pickwick Papers on my Kindle rather than having to balance the 800-page book in my hands when I laid in bed.

My inability to entirely love e-readers has more to do with the experience not quite feeling “real.”  I’ve experienced some of the same strange inability to remember things from chapter to chapter as did the author of this Time article, which also explains how the physical presence of a book may make it easier to learn material:

Context and landmarks may actually be important to going from “remembering” to “knowing.” The more associations a particular memory can trigger, the more easily it tends to be recalled. Consequently, seemingly irrelevant factors like remembering whether you read something at the top or the bottom of page – or whether it was on the right or left hand side of a two-page spread or near a graphic – can help cement material in mind.

This seems irrelevant at first, but spatial context may be particularly important because evolution may have shaped the mind to easily recall location cues so we can find our way around. That’s why great memorizers since antiquity have used a trick called the “method of loci” to associate facts they want to remember with places in spaces they already know, like rooms in their childhood home. They then visualize themselves wandering sequentially through the rooms, recalling the items as they go.

3 comments on “SMU Research: Boys Prefer Reading on a Kindle

  1. I agree with the author of the article on that point. It’s uncanny that to this day I can remember roughly where in a book I read a beloved passage (location on the page, right or left read, approximate page number). I’ll always prefer bound books to text files, even for magna opera. But I do welcome the growing popularity of e-readers, which has bolstered my favorite neighborhood shop’s used-book inventory.

  2. Jason, i’m waiting for the movie. Then, i’ll be able to comment on your blog post.