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Photography Found To Make You More Forgetful

While taking photos serve to immortalise a memory, it might actually yield opposite effects.

Quick! Without referring to your images gallery, describe your most memorable incident from a trip you just had.

Having a hard time recalling? Well, we don’t really blame you – a new research shows that taking a picture hazes one’s memory. To be specific, one would be less likely to remember objects they photograph than objects they observe in real life.

Published on December 5, 2013 in the journal Psychological Science, the study was conducted by researchers at Fairfield University. To examine whether photography impacts the memory, the researchers took a look at two separate groups of people:

  • 28 people were taken on a tour of Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art in Connecticut. The participants were asked to take a look at 15 different objects, followed by taking photographs of 15 others.
  • Also on a tour of Fairfield University’s Bellarmine Museum of Art, six participants were asked to look at 27 artefacts. They were instructed to examine nine of them, photograph another nine, and photograph a particular portion of the remaining.

The next day, the subjects were quizzed both verbally and visually on what they saw. Results showed that they remembered less about the actual objects when they photographed them, as opposed to just staring and observing. Interestingly, taking a specific and zoomed-in photo a painting, mosaic or statue helped preserve the memories of the participants.

“These results show how the ‘mind’s eye’ and the camera’s eye are not the same,” shares lead author and psychology researcher at Fairfield University, Linda Henkel. This “photo-taking impairment effect” occurs because people are now heavily relying on technology to store the experience, not their own mind.

So, the next time you’re on a trip to the museum, a scenic country or just about anywhere else, why not allow your mind to take a photographic memory first… and then, just to make sure that nothing’s missed out, you can whip out your camera after.


Sources: CBS, Live Science

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