Picture superiority effect is a phenomenon, that scientists have been trying to explain for the decades. The finding of a better memory for pictures compared to words was reported as early as the 19th century (Kirkpatrick, 1894). Kirkpatrick demonstrated that real objects were better remembered than either written or spoken words both tested immediately, and at a 3-day delay.
Dual coding theory
According to the most popular and frequently cited dual coding theory ( DCT ), pictures have two domains of encoding in our brain:
- Visual ( imagen )
- Verbal ( logogen )
Pictures are stored as perceptual information ( i.e. colors, shapes etc. ) and as verbal information. Together the 2 codes increase the memory strength of pictures because there can usually be two ways to represent anyone pictorial item.
So when you look at Mona Lisa picture, you would remember portrait of a smiling woman and name of the masterpiece.
At the same time, words have only one domain, beacausethey unlikely to generate the imagery in our brain.