People with worse memories can enjoy the same experiences more often, new research finds.
In contrast, those with the best memories may quickly get tired of the same music, books, places and even people.
Dr Noelle Nelson, the study’s first author, said:
“People with larger working memory capacities actually encode information more deeply.
They remember more details about the things they’ve experienced, and that leads them to feel like they’ve had it more.
That feeling then leads to the ‘large-capacity’ people getting tired of experiences faster.”
For the research people’s ability to remember strings of numbers and lists of objects was tested.
They were then played music clips and shown pictures to see how quickly they got bored of them.
Dr Nelson explained the results:
“We found that their capacity predicted how fast they got tired of the art or music.
People with larger memory capacities satiated on these things more quickly than people with smaller capacities.
Essentially, large-capacity people perceive that they’ve experienced things more times because they remember those experiences better.”
The graph below shows how people with high memory capacity enjoyed a greater variety of music clips.
Put the other way around: it also shows that people with poorer memories were not as easily bored.
The researchers think the findings could have implications for those struggling with overeating issues.
Dr Nelson said:
“Because a big part of overeating is psychological, a psychological solution such as memory processes could help people control their eating.
Consumers might be able to satiate more quickly by simply recalling the last several times they ate.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in The Journal of Consumer Research (Nelson & Redden, 2017).