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Efferent vs Aesthetic Reading

Efferent vs Aesthetic Reading


Never heard of this? Nor had I, but Ben Whitnall introduced me to the idea, and I think it’s really useful for thinking about communication and how it’s received.

The important thing to bear in mind is that meaning comes from how something is read…

Efferent reading is when you read something to be instructed. Here you are reading to absorb information. The reader needs language to be clear and easy to understand.

Aesthetic reading involves experiencing what is being read – ‘living it’. The reader needs the language to be evocative, stimulating, sensual, their expectation is to lose themselves to the written word.

It’s worth knowing, when researching communication – is the reader/ viewer coming to this for instruction or experience. What do they expect the communication to be?

It’s interesting too to think about how communication might be made to be both efferent and aesthetic. Does the Cadbury’s Gorilla ad encourage both an efferent and aesthetic ‘reading’. Aesthetic because we get to see joy in action. Efferent because we know they are trying to tell us/ sell us something?

Is the fashion for story telling in presentations an attempt to bring aesthetics to an efferent experience?


Kath Rhodes, Qual Street Owner

I love love learning and so I invest time and resources with Ambreen and Claire into exploring social psychology, neuro science, creativity and new techniques in research. Read all about it and help yourself to the ideas that will deliver your business the insight it needs

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