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Picture superiority effect

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According to the picture superiority effect, concepts are much more likely to be remembered experimentally if they are presented as pictures rather than as words.

According to dual-coding theory by Allan Paivio (1971, 1986), memory exists either (or both) verbally or "imaginally". Concrete concepts presented as pictures are encoded into both systems; however, abstract concepts are recorded only verbally.

In psychology the effect has implications for salience in attribution theory as well as the availability heuristic. It is also relevant to advertising.

See alsoEdit


  • Nelson, D. L., Reed, U. S., & Walling, J. R. (1976). Picture superiority effect. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning & Memory, 2, 523-528.
  • Paivio, A. (1971). Imagery and verbal processes. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
  • Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual-coding approach. New York: Oxford University Press.

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