Starbucks, Twitter, Toyota, Chanel, and Microsoft are companies who have logos that we see so often we can recognize and name the brand in an instant. Or can we? A new study, deemed the Apple Logo Test, conducted at UCLA determined that even if you are familiar with Apple’s infamous “apple” logo, chances are slim that you could draw it correctly from memory.
In a study called “The Apple of the mind’s eye: Everyday attention, metamemory, and reconstructive memory for the Apple logo” researchers at UCLA asked 85 students to draw the Apple logo on an empty piece of paper. Although 52 of the participants used Apple products exclusively, and another 23 used both Apple and PC products, only one student was able to draw the Apple logo correctly.
Equally puzzling, only about half were able to distinguish which logo was the Apple logo when given images of different variations of the logo to choose from.
Alan Castel, a senior author of the study and associate professor of psychology at UCLA, was not surprised by the results. In an article for Psychology Today (which Castel co-authored with Adam B. Blake), Castel posits “When we see things very often, they may reach what can be called ‘attentional saturation.’” This means, we see them so often that we don’t notice them.
This was certainly the case in a study Castel conducted in 2012, when he found that only 24% of those studied could correctly name the closest location of a (bright red) fire extinguisher, which are also ubiquitous.
Why is it that studies show we often overlook details that we see over and over again? One theory is that our brains don’t need to keep track of the minutia. Many details are not important to our day-to-day survival, or perhaps we know there are ways to fill in the blanks or trigger our memories.
Wonder how well you would do at recognizing Apple’s brand? Test yourself by clicking here.
If you take the quiz, you’ll notice the first question is about the test taker’s confidence level. Castel said, “There was a striking discrepancy between participants’ confidence prior to drawing the logo and how well they performed on the task. People’s memory, even for extremely common objects, is poorer than they believe it to be.”
I was surprised by this study! I really thought more of the students in the study would have been able to replicate the Apple logo. This research certainly makes the case for practicing mindfulness every day. Just imagine the things we’re missing.
Image Credit: Adam Blake, Meenely Nazarian, Alan Castel/UCLA Psychology
Blake, A., Nazarian, M, Castel, A. The Apple of the mind’s eye: Everyday attention, metamemory, and reconstructive memory for the Apple logo, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 2015; DOI: 10.1080/17470218.2014.1002798.