Doodlers Better At Paying Attention [Study]

Doodlers are better at paying attention, according to a study published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology. Timefirst reported on the study in 2009, but the info is making the rounds again thanks to a feature piece the Wall Street Journal did on former money manager Andrew Silton.

Apparently, the way Silton dealt with his high-stress career in finance was to sit through laborious meeting after meeting filling “at least” 75 spiral-bound notebooks with around 600 drawings by the time he retired in 2011.

Former NationsBank Corp. (now Bank of America Corp.) colleague John Munce said that no one seemed annoyed with Silton’s drawings but admitted that, given Silton’s status of chief investment officer, “You tend not to criticize someone in that position.”

Silton’s former boss Richard Moore, who hired the doodler as CIO for North Carolina’s $81 billion pension system found the doodles understandable. “I have sat through those same meetings with investment managers … Almost every manager says the same kind of things, so it’s understandable if Andy needed a distraction.”

But Silton’s habit has more substance than a simple distraction from boring jargon, a daily tweak to Google’s home page, or a party gag to pull on your sleeping roommate.

According to the 2009 study, author and psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in southern England found that doodlers are better at paying attention when dealing with tediously delivered information compared to their non-doodling counterparts.

Andrade’s study divided 40 adult volunteers into two equal groups. While listening to a monotone message, one group was allowed to doodle while the other was not. The doodling group retained close to 30 percent more of the message than the non-doodlers.

“Doodling can be a good thing,” Andrade said in comments to Newsweek. “If there’s a choice between doodling and daydreaming, you’re better off if your students are doodling.”

With news that doodlers are better at paying attention, are you now more likely to break out the drawing utensils at your next work meeting?

[Image via ShutterStock]