A new study coming out of Penn State suggests that individuals are better at remembering details when they anticipate having to recall them in the future.
“We found that in some cases, people have trouble remembering even very simple pieces of information when they do not expect to have to remember them,” said Brad Wyble, assistant professor of psychology at Penn State.
The researchers arrived at their conclusion after quizzing individuals about information they had just been shown. Participants often answered questions about their memories with ease when they anticipated what they would have to remember. However, when individuals were asked about information they had not specifically homed in on, they often were unable to remember the details accurately.
According to Wyble, the results from their experiments suggests that people’s expectations play a vital role in determining what they will be able to recall accurately.
“It seems like memory is sort of like a camcorder,” said Wyble. “If you don’t hit the ‘record’ button on the camcorder, it’s not going to ‘remember’ what the lens is pointed at.”