Paper Beats Digital For Emotion

According to a study by branding agency Millward Brown retold in a Neuromarketing blog post, physical media left a “deeper footprint” in the brain, even after for controlling for the increase in sensory processing for tangible items.

Images comparing Brain Scans of Paper vs Digital

Images comparing Brain Scans of Paper vs Digital

The study concluded:

  • Material shown on cards generated more activity within the area of the brain associated with the integration of visual and spatial information.
  • Physical material is more “real” to the brain. It has a meaning, and a place. It is better connected to memory because it engages with its spatial memory networks.
  • More processing is taking place in the right retrosplenial cortex when physical material is presented. This is involved in the processing of emotionally powerful stimuli and memory, which would suggest that the physical presentation may be generating more emotionally vivid memories.
  • Physical activity generates increased activity in the cerebellum, which is associated with spatial and emotional processing (as well as motor activity) and is likely to be further evidence of enhanced emotional processing.

Paper has advantages over digital media. To maximize these concepts:

  • Think about the touch and feel of the piece. Heavier stock and a textured finish could emphasize the “tangibility” of the mailed item.
  • Seize the advantage of the brain’s emotional engagement with tangible media and craft a message that will make an emotional connection.
  • Find ways to maximize your brand imagery and perhaps feel, brand recall may be enhanced by the paper medium.

We talked about the power of touch and how that can increase how likely people are to purchase an item because of the increased connection.


  1. healing says:

    Ty for the read I loved.
    I have bookmarked your site and will come back again.

  2. […] is digitally, they may not be absorbing the communication. We have shared information about how paper can make better emotional connections, and how touching, feeling and engaging in an activity like doodling can help retain information. […]

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