Why We Remember What We Remember?
A. Short Term Memory
There are typically six reasons why information is stored in our short term memory.
1. Primary Effect - information that occurs first is typically remembered better than information occurring later. When given a list of words or numbers, the first word or number is usually remembered due to rehearsing this more than other information.
2. Recency Effect - often the last bit of information is remembered better because not as much time has past; time which results in forgetting.
3.Distinctiveness - if something stands out from information around it, it is often remembered better. Any distinctive information is easier to remember than that which is similar, usual, or mundane.
4.Frequency effect - rehearsal results in better memory. Remember trying to memorize a formula for your math class. The more you went over it, the better you knew it.
5.Associations - when we associate or attach information to other information it becomes easier to remember. Many of us use this strategy in our professions and everyday life in the form of acronyms.
6.Reconstruction - sometimes we actually fill in the blanks in our memory. In other words, when trying to get a complete picture in our minds, we will make up the missing parts, often without any realization that this is occurring.
B. Long Term Memory
Information that passes from our short term to our long term memory is typically that which has some significance attached to it. Imagine how difficult it would be to forget the day you graduated, or your first kiss. Now think about how easy it is to forget information that has no significance; the color of the car you parked next to at the store or what shirt you wore last Thursday. When we process information, we attach significance to it and information deemed important is transferred to our long term memory There are other reasons information is transferred. As we all know, sometimes our brains seem full of insignificant facts. Repetition plays a role in this, as we tend to remember things more the more they are rehearsed. Other times, information is transferred because it is somehow attached to something significant. You may remember that it was a warm day when you bought your first car. The temperature really plays no important role, but is attached to the memory of buying your first car.