4. What To Remember

What to Remember biases may be broken down into categories:

We store memories differently based on how they were experienced, such as:

  • Tip-of-the-tongue PhenomenonWhen a subject is able to recall parts of an item, or related information, but is frustratingly unable to recall the whole item. This is thought to be an instance of “blocking” where multiple similar memories are being recalled and interfere with each other.
  • Google EffectThe tendency to forget information that can be found readily online by using Internet search engines.
  • Next-in-line EffectWhen taking turns speaking in a group using a predetermined order (e.g. going clockwise around a room, taking numbers, etc.) people tend to have diminished recall for the words of the person who spoke immediately before them.
  • Testing EffectThe fact that you more easily remember information you have read by rewriting it instead of rereading it.
  • Absent-mindednessWhere a person shows inattentive or forgetful behavior, often caused by a low level of attention (“blanking” or “zoning out”), intense attention to a single object of focus (hyperfocus) that makes a person oblivious to events around him or her, or unwarranted distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or environmental events.
  • Levels of Processing EffectThat different methods of encoding information into memory have different levels of effectiveness.

We reduce events and lists to their key elements such as:

  • Suffix EffectDiminishment of the recency effect because a sound item is appended to the list that the subject is not required to recall.
  • Serial Position EffectThat items near the end of a sequence are the easiest to recall, followed by the items at the beginning of a sequence; items in the middle are the least likely to be remembered.
  • Part-list Cuing EffectThat being shown some items from a list and later retrieving one item causes it to become harder to retrieve the other items.
  • Recency Effect An order of presentation effect that occurs when more recent information is better remembered and receives greater weight in forming a judgment than does earlier-presented information.
  • Primacy EffectThe tendency to recall information presented at the start of a list better than information at the middle or end.
  • Memory InhibitionWhen being shown some items from a list makes it harder to retrieve the other items.
  • Modality EffectThat memory recall is higher for the last items of a list when the list items were received via speech than when they were received through writing.
  • Duration NeglectThe neglect of the duration of an episode in determining its value.
  • List-length EffectA smaller percentage of items are remembered in a longer list, but as the length of the list increases, the absolute number of items remembered increases as well. For example, consider a list of 30 items (“L30”) and a list of 100 items (“L100”). An individual may remember 15 items from L30, or 50%, whereas the individual may remember 40 items from L100, or 40%. Although the percent of L30 items remembered (50%) is greater than the percent of L100 (40%), more L100 items (40) are remembered than L30 items (15).
  • Serial Recall EffectThe tendency of a person to recall the first and last items in a series best, and the middle items worst.
  • Misinformation EffectMemory becoming less accurate because of interference from post-event information.
  • Leveling and SharpeningMemory distortions introduced by the loss of details in a recollection over time, often concurrent with sharpening or selective recollection of certain details that take on exaggerated significance in relation to the details or aspects of the experience lost through leveling. Both biases may be reinforced over time, and by repeated recollection or re-telling of a memory.
  • Peak-end RuleThat people seem to perceive not the sum of an experience but the average of how it was at its peak (e.g., pleasant or unpleasant) and how it ended.

We discard specifics to form generalities, such as:

  • Fading Affect BiasA bias in which the emotion associated with unpleasant memories fades more quickly than the emotion associated with positive events.
  • Negativity BiasPsychological phenomenon by which humans have a greater recall of unpleasant memories compared with positive memories.
  • PrejudiceAn unjustified or incorrect attitude (usually negative) towards an individual based solely on the individual’s membership of a social group.
  • Stereotypical BiasExpecting a member of a group to have certain characteristics without having actual information about that individual. (Gender Bias)
  • Implicit StereotypesWhen people have attitudes towards others or associate stereotypes with them without conscious knowledge.
  • Implicit AssociationsThe speed with which people can match words depends on how closely they are associated.

We edit and reinforce some memories after the fact, such as:

  • Spacing EffectThat information is better recalled if exposure to it is repeated over a long span of time rather than a short one.
  • SuggestibilityA form of misattribution where ideas suggested by a questioner are mistaken for memory.
  • False MemoryA form of misattribution where imagination is mistaken for a memory.
  • CryptomnesiaA form of misattribution where a memory is mistaken for imagination, because there is no subjective experience of it being a memory.
  • Source ConfusionConfusing episodic memories with other information, creating distorted memories.
  • Misattribution of MemoryThe ability to remember information correctly, but being wrong about the source of that information.