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For whom is a picture worth a thousand words? How does the visualizing cognitive style affect processing of news photos?
Unformatted Document Text:  Processing of news photos 3 For whom is a picture worth a thousand words? How does the visualizing cognitive style affect processing of news photos? News photography is considered to be critically important to people’s perceptions of the news (Goldberg, 1991). After headlines, photos are the element most likely to grab the attention of readers (Garcia & Stark, 1991). Further, news photographs are more likely to be examined than captions and stories. Media researchers and psychologists have long been interested in how people process visual information, investigating how abstract visual images, illustrations and photographs are perceived, attended to and remembered (e.g., Barry, 1997; Berlyne, 1973, 1974, 1975; Graber, 1990; Messaris, 1994; Paivio, 1971). Further, educational psychologists and media researchers have examined how pictures affect how we attend to and learn from the texts they accompany (e.g., Levie & Lentz, 1982; Mendelson, 2001; Wanta, 1988; Zillmann, Gibson & Sargent, 2001). However, one area related to how visual information is processed that has received little attention, especially in media research, is how individual differences in cognitive styles, that is, in preferred ways of processing information, affect how people perceive, attend to and remember images. Of interest in this paper is how people differing in visualizing (a preference for learning from visuals) and verbalizing (a preference for learning from words) attend to, remember and perceive news photographs. And what mechanisms lie beneath these cognitive styles. Specifically, the purpose of this paper is threefold. First, this study will separate out the processes of attention to and memory for news photographs as consequences of the visualizing style. That is, this study will test a model that proposes that being a visualizer leads to greater attention to visual material, which in turn leads to improved memory. Attention is the mediating variable for visualizers to learn more from pictures. Second, this study examines how people

Authors: Mendelson, Andrew.
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background image
Processing of news photos
3
For whom is a picture worth a thousand words?
How does the visualizing cognitive style affect processing of news photos?
News photography is considered to be critically important to people’s perceptions of the news
(Goldberg, 1991). After headlines, photos are the element most likely to grab the attention of
readers (Garcia & Stark, 1991). Further, news photographs are more likely to be examined than
captions and stories. Media researchers and psychologists have long been interested in how
people process visual information, investigating how abstract visual images, illustrations and
photographs are perceived, attended to and remembered (e.g., Barry, 1997; Berlyne, 1973, 1974,
1975; Graber, 1990; Messaris, 1994; Paivio, 1971). Further, educational psychologists and
media researchers have examined how pictures affect how we attend to and learn from the texts
they accompany (e.g., Levie & Lentz, 1982; Mendelson, 2001; Wanta, 1988; Zillmann, Gibson
& Sargent, 2001). However, one area related to how visual information is processed that has
received little attention, especially in media research, is how individual differences in cognitive
styles, that is, in preferred ways of processing information, affect how people perceive, attend to
and remember images. Of interest in this paper is how people differing in visualizing (a
preference for learning from visuals) and verbalizing (a preference for learning from words)
attend to, remember and perceive news photographs. And what mechanisms lie beneath these
cognitive styles.
Specifically, the purpose of this paper is threefold. First, this study will separate out the
processes of attention to and memory for news photographs as consequences of the visualizing
style. That is, this study will test a model that proposes that being a visualizer leads to greater
attention to visual material, which in turn leads to improved memory. Attention is the mediating
variable for visualizers to learn more from pictures. Second, this study examines how people


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