19 April 2008

the eye of man hath not heard

I'm definitely a very visual thinker.

I know this is the case partly by contrast with Laurel who is much more able to follow verbal directions and written instructions. Those assembly instructions from IKEA with only pictures drive her up the wall, while I think they're perfect. On the other hand, when I'm given multi-step verbal directions, I'll get to about the second step and need them repeated.

In general then, I'm prone to flow charts, diagrams, pictures, and other sorts of visual aids in absorbing and retaining information.

When I'm having difficulty getting my mind around a topic or argument, I find it helps to plot it out, even if just writing sentences on a page, arranged with numbers and connected by arrows.

My penchant for visual representation extends to language and spelling and memory.

When meeting a person for the first time with an unusual name, I'm far more likely to remember the name if I ask the person to spell it for me. And when I repeatedly hear a name I have no idea how to spell, it begins to grate on my nerves.

As a regular NPR listener, I feel as if many of their newscasters, commentators, and correspondents are like a sort of extended family. But I could only tolerate it for so long before looking up name spellings on the NPR website for familiar folks such as Kai Ryssdal (Marketplace), Farai Chideya (News & Notes), and Lakshmi Singh (NPR News). What a relief to finally see these familiar names!

I also wonder if there the tendency towards visual over verbal correlates to gender. So, for instance, do males generally tend to fall on the visual side and women more on the verbal? I have some evidence from in my own experience that this is the case, but am not sure if this really holds true more widely.

Thoughts? Stories? Does my experience resonate with yours?