Why is it always best to remember the unimportant things, for example, the gossip stories, but not the international, economic, or political news, which actually often affect you more? But why do some memories stand out and some don’t? Let’s find out.
Scientists don’t think that we always remember the least important things but let’s assume we had the assumption that this was the case and wanted to check this assumption. If we give a newspaper to read to people and then ask about the content, the result is that gossip is better reproduced than complicated processes in politics and economics as evidence for our assumption.
For one thing, it should be clear to everyone that comparing these two types of news varies more than just abstract importance. In addition to the complexity and thus comprehensibility, the prior knowledge of the typical reader has also been varied. Just give the newspaper to an economist who at the same time has no interest and therefore little prior knowledge of film, television, and music and watch how he can easily give you the latest business news afterward, but when you ask about entertainment, they just nod their head that they don’t know.
In general, it is an important condition for good memory performance to be able to connect the new information with knowledge that is already known. If you ask the 40 to 50-year-old generation about someone important and famous around the time when they were in their youth, they would remember it because it is about people who have left their mark on the memory of this generation. This makes some memories stand out If you ask a similar question to someone in their 20’s now, there is a high probability that they might ask you ‘Who?’.
What Is Important?
On the other hand, this example also shows that the aspect of importance is not easy to determine. Certainly, we should perhaps take certain political, scientific, and economic issues more seriously than gossip. But I would argue the other way around and claim that to a certain extent personal importance is shown by the fact that something has been kept in mind.
People from current events obviously belong to our social context in a certain way and are experienced as personally relevant in their relationships. Of course, there are other factors as well. If we experience information as inconsistent with our previous expectations, we will put a little more effort into processing the information in order to integrate it into our existing knowledge.
This promotes later memory. Gossips certainly often have this character. Unique and outstanding events are remembered better. This is also often the case with gossip. Emotional events also have a slightly better chance of being remembered and gossiped about. Gossip is often linked to emotional responses. Conversing gossip more often also promotes long-term retention.
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Incidentally, all these aspects are bundled in some events in contemporary history, such as 9/11. Relevant for everyone in an unspecified way, meeting a rich knowledge structure, distinct, emotional. And the topic of conversation. That is why there is what goes under the name ‘flashlight memory’ in memory research. Almost everyone without exception knows where he was, what he was doing, who he was with when he or she found out about the attack. This is how some memories stand