1. Failure to Store
Do you feel as if you forget information all of the time? It might not be a matter of forgetting but instead of not encoding when you first received the information. Several experiments have shown that people have trouble remembering visual details of a common object. In one experiment, participants were asked to identify the features which appear on a penny (Nickerson & Adams, 1979). In a similar experiment participants were asked to recall the numerical keypad (0 to 9) commonly found on telephone pads and calculators (Rinck, 1999). For both experiments participants performed surprisingly poor on the tasks, supporting the idea that common details are not easily stored in long-term memory.
How to apply this at work:
Now that you know some information can be easily bypassed, make it a point to concentrate on the details and make them memorable. Studies show that purposefully directing attention to the layout or components of the information can increase recall significantly (Rinck, 1999). Another idea is to try centering it on a story or using a mnemonic device to remember those less than sticky details.
You probably consider yourself an individual that has no problem going against the grain and refusing to blend in with your peers. However, studies show that you are more likely to conform than you initially thought. Conformity refers to an individual’s tendency to follow the unspoken rules or behaviors of the social group to which he or she belongs.
Consider a set of studies referred to as the Asch Conformity Experiments conducted by Solomon Asch. In these studies the participants believed they were a part of a vision test. Participants were asked to point out the longest or shortest lines from a set of options. Unbeknownst to the participant, there were confederates among the group who answered the questions correctly at first but then began providing incorrect answers. As a result, nearly 75% of the participants in the experiments went along with the responses of the rest of the group (i.e., confederates) even when it was apparent it was the incorrect response.
How to apply this at work:
Be mindful of this phenomenon and consider why you are agreeing with those around you. Are you behaving this way because you believe it to be socially appropriate? Are you scared of voicing a different point of view? A good practice is to play Devil’s Advocate and consider the pros and cons to going against the group decision.
Are there psychology theories or phenomena that you are curious to learn more about? Let us know and we will include them in a future post!
Nickerson, R.S. and Adams, M.J. (1979). Long-term memory for a common object, Cognitive Psychology, 11(3), 287-307.
Rinck, M. (1999). Memory for everyday objects: Where are the digits on numerical keypads? Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13, 329-350.