Is Photo-Taking Making Us Forgetful?

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file0001665703096FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Are digital cameras helping us preserve memories, or do they make us more likely to forget the things we see?

A new paper published in the journal Psychological Science by Fairfield University professor Linda A. Henkel suggests that it depends on how we use the camera.

In a study, participants were led on a tour of an art museum and were told to photograph some objects and just observe others. Afterwards, the participants were better able to recall the objects they observed than the ones they photographed while.

“When people rely on technology to remember for them — counting on the camera to record the event and thus not needing to attend to it fully themselves — it can have a negative impact on how well they remember their experiences,” Henkel explains.

However, participants who zoomed in on a specific part of the object had better recall of the object, and their memory for features that were not zoomed in on was just as strong as for the detail that was the focus of their photos.

“These results show how the ‘mind’s eye’ and the camera’s eye are not the same,” says Henkel.


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