Do multimedia enhancements affect how much individuals learn from online news websites? Do audio and video downloads generate positive impressions of the website in the minds of users? A five-condition, between-participants controlled experiment (N = 60) was designed to address these questions. Each study participant read three news stories from a news website created for the experiment; he or she was given either a text-only version of the news site; a version with text and pictures; one with text and audio; one with text, pictures, and audio; or one with text, pictures, and video. Following exposure, participants filled out a paper-and-pencil questionnaire assessing their memory and perceptions. Results suggest that pictures and audio are particularly powerful psychological cues. In general, multimedia tends to hinder memory for story content and leads to negative evaluations of the site and its content, but improves memory for advertisements. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
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