Potential readers can make snap decisions in just 50 milliseconds.
Like the look of our website? Whatever the answer (and hopefully it was yes), the chances are you made your mind up within the first twentieth of a second. A study by researchers in Canada has shown that the snap decisions Internet users make about the quality of a web page have a lasting impact on their opinions.
We all know that first impressions count, but this study shows that the brain can make flash judgements almost as fast as the eye can take in the information. The discovery came as a surprise to some experts. “My colleagues believed it would be impossible to really see anything in less than 500 milliseconds,” says Gitte Lindgaard of Carleton University in Ottawa, who has published the research in the journal Behaviour and Information Technology1. Instead they found that impressions were made in the first 50 milliseconds of viewing.
Lindgaard and her team presented volunteers with the briefest glimpses of web pages previously rated as being either easy on the eye or particularly jarring, and asked them to rate the websites on a sliding scale of visual appeal. Even though the images flashed up for just 50 milliseconds, roughly the duration of a single frame of standard television footage, their verdicts tallied well with judgements made after a longer period of scrutiny.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Jan 2006
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Grohol, J. (2006). Web users judge sites in the blink of an eye. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 9, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2006/01/14/web-users-judge-sites-in-the-blink-of-an-eye/