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Find yourself giving better directions




Doctor Dan Sermand from MSF, finds the location on a map where today's delivery will go.
Doctor Dan Sermand from MSF, finds the location on a map where today's delivery will go.
Jonas Gratzer/Getty Images

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If you want to give good directions for traveling, mind the order to your words.

The School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen may have found the easiest way to give directions, and they found it by using a popular children’s picture book series.

The study finds that starting with a noticeable landmark and then ending it with the destination will make it easier for others to understand and follow the instructions.

To test this, the researchers showed participants an image from “Where’s Waldo?” and asked them to explain how to find the man wearing stripes among the variety of distractions on the page. When the subjects mentioned an obvious nearby landmark, those listening to them needed less time find Waldo for themselves.

Researchers believe that people start processing directions before others have finished conveying them; offering a waypoint immediately allows listeners to conceptualize where they need to be much easier.

Guests:

Alasdair Clarke, Ph.D, School of Psychology at the University of Aberdeen and lead author of the study

Micha Elsner, Assistant professor at the Department of Linguistics, Ohio State University and co-author of the study