Typing is a strange skill. People possessing it tend to excel at it rather unconsciously, without even knowing what the exact location of different letters on a keyboard is, according to a new study.
The study was done at Vanderbilt University and aimed to discern the learning patterns and memory performance during the process of typing. To determine this, a number of typists who could average more than 72 words per minute were invited to participate.
In the first experiment, the typists were asked to identify whatever keys they can on a blank keyboard. This was meant to see what portion of a keyboard’s layout is known to them. They were given individual letters which they then had to map on a keyboard. Quite interestingly, even such typists who averaged more than 72 wpm and a 94% accuracy got only 57% letters right, wrongly identifying 22.3% of the letters and forgetting the rest.
In the next experiment, the researchers chose a single key on the keyboard and then asked the typists to determine what letter is it. Again, only 55% of the participants were able to identify it correctly on the first try. Such participants who were allowed to mime typing on the keyboard were able to determine the key more quickly and accurately.
These experiments and the overall conclusion of the study shows that we probably don’t know as much about keyboard as we think we do. Even with excellent typing skills, most of us are unable to locate exact keys. A possible explanation could be that we use keyboard for words, which comprise of letters. So our estimation of these letters comes from their formation and relative positions within words. This is probably why identifying a single letter on the keyboard can be such a problem.