May 17, 2019
This behavioral economics podcast episode is about memories.
Specifically, it will be an overview of memory biases Last
week, we took a little break from our series on “all the biases”
for a behavioral economics analysis of Costco. Today, we dig into
memory. This topic will be divided into three sections.
The first section is general memory stuff, then we will talk
about false memories and wrap it up with some tips on how you can
use these biases to help you remember things better! When we think
about our brains and all the amazing things they do, much of what
we are accessing are memories. This episode breaks it all down with
some fun facts and cool tips about our memories that a lot of you
may not know.
- [03:59] When we think about our brains and all the amazing
things they do, much of what we are accessing are memories.
- [04:21] Most people think of our brains like a filing cabinet,
but that's not how it works.
- [04:36] Our memories are basically inaccurate renditions our
brains tell us...and every time we access them, we change them a
- [04:49] The more we think about something the less likely it is
to be accurate. This is partially because of two biases called
leveling and sharpening.
- [05:00] Memories can be distorted over time when details are
lost. In this process, there may be selective
recollection (where you only remember, sharpen and
exaggerate certain portions of the memory). Or, it can be leveled
out to fit some other biases that exist and just get a little
dulled over time. Both of these are constantly reinforcing each
other over time.
- [06:41] Our biases impact our memories and our present and
- [06:58] Because of the self relevance effect
we find it much easier to recall memories about our self or things
related to ourselves.
- [07:13] You are the hero of your own story, but even you don't
remember your own story correctly.
- [07:20] Due to the fading effect bias, our
brains like to feel positive emotions more than negative ones, so
the emotions tied to bad memories will fade quicker than the
emotions tied to positive events. This is likely tied to optimism
bias and our ability to persevere through hardship.
- [07:54] Because of reminiscence bump, people
do not remember things from all times of their life equally.
Instead, people will have memories and be able to recall more
personal events from happenings in early adulthood and adolescence
than from any other time in their life.
- [08:35] We remember some time periods better than others, some
items from years and years ago are able to be recalled “like it was
- [08:55] Due to the telescoping effect, we tend
to think of recent events as being further back in time, and those
which happened longer ago are placed more recent in our minds.
- [09:14] The peak end rule – where experiences
are not about the sum of that entire experience over time. Instead,
it is about how it was at its peak and how it ended.
- [10:12] If something bad happened, it might be worth putting in
some effort to make sure that is not the last experience and
instead have it be a midpoint negative item if you can, that
becomes outweighed by some very positive peaks over time.
- [11:05] The tip of the tongue phenomenon. I am
sure you have had this frustrating experience at least once – when
you can almost remember something…and the word or phrase or moment
or name of that movie is “on the tip of your tongue” – right? This
is thought to happen due to blocking, when
multiple memories that are similar to each other are being called
upon at the same time.
- [12:23] A false memory is when we accidentally
think something we imagined really happened, and misattribute it as
- [12:55] Think about selling – confidence is key to selling. Try
and imagine what it would be like if you had done this successfully
already, think through the whole memory to help make it as real as
possible. When you believe it, that could make future selling
- [14:02] Our brains are powerful, but they are easily
- [14:40] The illusion of truth effect.
Essentially, people are more likely to believe something they have
heard before – or are familiar with – than something they have
never heard before (or are unfamiliar with).
- [15:25] The opposite of a false memory is called
cryptomnesia – when a real memory is mistaken as
imagination because there is not the proper subjective experience
of it being a memory.
- [16:54] We kind of smooth and average things out. This is why
we tend to remember high values, likelihoods and probabilities as
lower than they were, and low ones as higher. This is known as the
conservatism or regressive bias.
- [17:39] You remember something that took a long time as not
being as much as it really was, and because you are optimistic you
will do even better the next time, you severely underestimate how
long it will take.
- [18:12] HOW TO REMEMBER THINGS BETTER
- [20:04] Don't bog down your consciousness with stuff that can
be found easily. Make room for other stuff that can't be found
- [20:35] Repeated exposure over a long period of time is better
than cramming it all in last minute.
- [21:12] It's easier to remember something in the right
- [22:23] It's easier to remember happy memories when you're
happy and sad memories when you're sad.
- [23:24] Repeating information out loud can help you remember it
this is called the generation effect.
- [24:38] Having the general message should be enough to help you
- [26:13] Note cards with images could help you remember.
- [27:35] Stuff that takes longer to read and process is easier
- [29:12] Put the most important things on the list at the end.
This is because of the modality effect.
- [30:21] In networking situations or in meetings…are you always
waiting for someone to take a breath or pause so you can speak?
That is a sign you aren’t really listening to others when they
speak, because you are creating a next in line
effect all the time.
- [30:48] Being a good listener is key to building relationships
in life and business.
Thanks for listening. Don’t forget to subscribe on
Apple Podcasts or Android.
If you like what you heard, please leave a
review on iTunes and share what you liked about the show.
Links and Resources: