Do you know what Apple's oh-so-ubiquitous logo looks like? Do you really? UCLA psychologists asked 85 undergrads to draw the Apple logo from memory, and only one got it right. The rest of the results are hilarious and incorrectly lopsided.
Okay, so not all of us are artists. I do not have much faith in my ability to freehand an Apple logo. But the researchers also asked another group of volunteers to identify the correct logo out of a many, and those results were also not promising: Even then, less than half got it right. Take the test for yourself here.
The takeaway is that human memory is terrible. At the BPS Research Digest blog, Christian Jarrett notes that a classic study from the 70s found people are unable to recall basic details of a penny. For most of us, I bet Apple logos are an even more familiar sight than pennies. (I say looking down at the five—holy shit, five—Apple devices on my desk.) Their ubiquity might just be exactly why, explains Jarrett.
Blake and his team said one explanation is that the over-exposure to, and availability of, the Apple logo stops people attending to its details (this makes sense from a functional perspective – why bother remembering something that's ever present?). Consequently people form a "gist memory" for the logo (i.e. "it's an apple") and they end up drawing what it "should look like instead of what they remembered it to look like". The researchers predict the same might be true for the coloured letters of the ubiquitous Google logo, and other highly familiar logos.
So, care to draw us an Apple logo? No peeking of course.
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