Photographic Memory: The Effects of Volitional Photo Taking on Memory for Visual and Auditory Aspects of an Experience

Psychological Science¬ł August 2017, Vol 28, Issue 8, p.1056 - 1066

29 Pages Posted: 18 Sep 2017

See all articles by Alixandra Barasch

Alixandra Barasch

New York University

Kristin Diehl

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business

Jackie Silverman

University of Pennsylvania

Gal Zauberman

Yale

Date Written: September 13, 2017

Abstract

How does volitional photo taking affect unaided memory for visual and auditory aspects of experiences? Across one field and three lab studies, we found that, even without revisiting any photos, participants who could freely take photographs during an experience recognized more of what they saw and less of what they heard, compared with those who could not take any photographs. Further, merely taking mental photos had similar effects on memory. These results provide support for the idea that photo taking induces a shift in attention toward visual aspects and away from auditory aspects of an experience. Additional findings were in line with this mechanism: Participants with a camera had better recognition of aspects of the scene that they photographed than of aspects they did not photograph. Furthermore, participants who used a camera during their experience recognized even nonphotographed aspects better than participants without a camera did. Meta-analyses including all reported studies support these findings.

Keywords: photographs, visual memory, auditory memory, autobiographical memory, experiences

JEL Classification: M30

Suggested Citation

Barasch, Alixandra and Diehl, Kristin and Silverman, Jackie and Zauberman, Gal, Photographic Memory: The Effects of Volitional Photo Taking on Memory for Visual and Auditory Aspects of an Experience (September 13, 2017). Psychological Science¬ł August 2017, Vol 28, Issue 8, p.1056 - 1066. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3036621

Alixandra Barasch

New York University ( email )

40 W. 4th St.
New York, NY 10012
United States

Kristin Diehl (Contact Author)

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90089
United States

Jackie Silverman

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Gal Zauberman

Yale ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
United States

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