The secret to remembering
December 15, 2015
Our memory is bound to the context we learn in, something we've discussed in detail before. Essentially, the closer the context in which you're trying to remember something is to the context you...
Unfiled: this is an archived article from our predecessor website, The Dirt Psychology.
Our memory is bound to the context we learn in, something we've discussed in detail before. Essentially, the closer the context in which you're trying to remember something is to the context you learned it in, the better you remember. But there can be different kinds of contexts, and the type of context will affect how we remember. For example, strawberry jam is different to a traffic jam. So, while we’ve seen that it’s easier to remember a list while underwater if we learned that list underwater, our different kinds of memory can effect our learning. It works like this:
Extrinsic contextExtrinsic context refers to context that doesn't actually change the meaning of the thing we're trying to remember. So, to our strawberry jam example, it doesn't matter if we LIKE jam or not, strawberry jam remains strawberry jam. Our mood won't effect it, the weather that day won't change what it is. These things are extrinsic to the actual nature of the jam.
Extrinsic contexts will effect how well we actually recall things. So, if you're trying to remember what kind of jam you had on your toast the other day, you'll remember it better if you wandered into the kitchen (where you ate it) as opposed to trying to remember in your bedroom (somewhere you didn't eat it). Extrinsic contexts do not effect whether we'll recognise it though. So, when trying to remember, it won't matter if you're in your bedroom or the kitchen, if someone presents a jar of strawberry jam to you you're equally likely to remember that you ate that the other day.