Do you doodle when you're bored? Turns out, those idle scribbles actually serve a beneficial purpose: doodling help you retain information in the event of boredom!
In a delightful new study, which will be published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology, psychologist Jackie Andrade of the University of Plymouth in southern England showed that doodlers actually remember more than nondoodlers when asked to retain tediously delivered information, like, say, during a boring meeting or a lecture.
In her small but rigorous study, Andrade separated 40 participants into two groups of 20. All 40 had just finished an unrelated psychological experiment, and many were thinking of going home (or to the pub). They were asked, instead, whether they wouldn't mind spending an additional five minutes helping with research. The participants were led into a quiet room and asked to listen to a 2½-min. tape that they were told would be "rather dull." [...]
Before the tape began, half the study participants were asked to shade in some little squares and circles on a piece of paper while they listened. They were told not to worry about being neat or quick about it. (Andrade did not instruct people explicitly to "doodle," which might have prompted self-consciousness about what constituted an official doodle.) The other 20 didn't doodle. All the participants were asked to write the names of those coming to the party while the tape played, which meant the doodlers switched between their doodles and their lists.
Afterward, the papers were removed and the 40 volunteers were asked to recall, orally, the place names and the names of the people coming to the party. The doodlers creamed the nondoodlers: those who doodled during the tape recalled 7.5 pieces of information (out of 16 total) on average, 29% more than the average of 5.8 recalled by the control group.
John Cloud of TIME Magazine has more: Link