Take Note, For The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard!

Dr. Benjamin Waddell & Dr. Leslie Alvarez
The Paw Print
Welcome to a new semester at Adams State University! It gives us great pleasure to announce a new PAW column. Beginning this semester, students from the Department of Psychology and the Department of Sociology will be contributing weekly articles on issues related to everyday life on campus. This new section will be titled “Veritas,” which is Latin for “truth.” Articles in Veritas will address topics that are frequently studied in the social sciences but also happen to be related to your life here at ASU.
The social sciences, like the natural sciences, use the scientific method to ask and answer questions. Our questions revolve around humans and human nature with the hope of improving quality of life, mental health, and social policy. As humans, we tend to feel that psychology or sociology is simply common sense, confirming what we already know. However, often times our perceptions do not match reality. For example, did you know that when it comes to relationships, opposites don’t really attract (Rosenbaum, 1986)? Or, that sugar doesn’t really make children hyperactive (see Flora & Polenick, 2013)? Or, that playing video games or watching television after a long, stressful day doesn’t always relax us? In fact, it may increase guilt and feelings of failure (Reinecke, Hartmann & Eden, 2014)!
We believe Veritas will help connect the scholarship of our science to your daily life. Here’s a brief glimpse at what our columns will look like.
How many of you still write out your final essays by hand before typing them up on a computer? Or, how many of you have transitioned to taking notes on your laptop in class? As it turns out, you are not alone. Students across the world have begun to digitalize their writing experience. Including us! We frequently find ourselves taking notes on our laptops in faculty meetings and plugging things into our respective calendars on our cell phones. Still, while this is very convenient, it may not be the most efficient way to go about actually remembering the things we jot down.
In an article titled “The Pen is Mightier Than the Keyboard,” researchers Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer find that “even when allowed to review notes after a week’s delay, participants who had taken notes with laptops performed worse on tests of both factual content and conceptual understanding, relative to participants who had taken notes longhand.” In other words, laptops, while extremely convenient, do not appear to improve your ability to take notes, and worse, they may even lead to lower test scores!
All of us have a tendency to procrastinate from time to time. Faculty members put off grading to the last minute (so we have heard!), students push back writing final essays until the night before the due date, first year students delay getting out of bed until they absolutely have to, and many of us delay paying off our bills until the very last minute! Still, as rational beings we realize that heavy procrastination can get in the way of leading productive and successful lives. So how do we control our instinctual tendency to put things off? We set deadlines of course! We sign up for Google calendar, we upload everything to our phone (which we then use to sync with our significant others’ calendars), and we even tell Siri when to wake us up or what time to remind us about a meeting. It turns out Siri won’t deliver your coffee, we’ve tried, but she will arrange to have someone else deliver it for you!
All this leads to an important question, do self-imposed deadlines actually make us more efficient? According to researchers Dan Ariely and Klaus Wertenbroch, they do, but with one important caveat. Self-imposed deadlines help us rein in procrastination but not near as much as deadlines imposed from the outside. In other words, if you want to be really efficient and avoid procrastination, it best to place yourself in situation where others will hold you accountable for your obligations. It seems we don’t like letting ourselves down but we really hate letting down others!
So, as you begin your new semester, we invite you to put aside your laptop, attend your classes, and pay close attention to the deadlines in your course syllabi! Don’t let us down! Ah, and read Veritas every week. We promise to keep it fresh and enlighten your days with useful facts from the world of social science!

-Ben and Leslie

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