On average, billions of photos are taken each year and 300 million are uploaded every day on Facebook . But if we take pictures, it is to remember important moments in our lives. But does the photo really promote the reminiscence of events? A study published in Psychological Science seems to show that taking pictures prevents us from correctly recording details in our memory.
For Linda Henkel, author of the article, “people go out so often their camera almost without thinking. When they rely on technology to remember for them, it can have a negative impact on how they remember their experiences . ”
The researchers conducted two experiments to find out if photographing objects had an influence on what is retained of them. In the first experiment, 27 students visited an art museum to see 30 objects, 15 of which were to be photographed and simply observed. Participants had 30 seconds to observe the object or 20 seconds to observe it and 10 seconds to photograph it. The next day, they had to write down the names of the objects they remembered and answer questions about details. The rate of correct answers on the details of the objects photographed was 55% against 64% for the objects only observed: the participants remembered less well the objects photographed than those that
To find out if the observation time of the object influences the results, the researchers conducted another experiment with 46 people. This time, during their visit to the museum , participants saw 27 objects. Nine were observed, nine others were photographed in full, and for the other nine, participants had to photograph a detail. Each time, the participants observed the objects for 25 seconds, and could then photograph them: the observation time was always the same. The next day, the participants had to remember the objects of the museum. Again, when the object was photographed in full, the participants remembered it less well! On the other hand, zooming had a different effect …
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In this second experiment, zooming protected the memory of the details, regardless of the detail magnified: even the non-zoomed details were better retained if the participant had photographed another part of the object! The way in which photography was taken therefore had an effect on the process of memorization.
In conclusion, photographing objects has a negative effect on the memory of these objects, unless one zooms in on a particular detail. However, for Linda Henkel, photos can sometimes help to reactivate memory. “To remember, we need to have access to the photos and interact with them, instead of just hoarding them . “