Taking a Picture May Cause Memory Loss

Taking a Picture May Cause Memory Loss

It is possible that by taking a picture, instead of helping someone to remember an event, it might just cause memory loss, according to recently published research in the United States. The study, printed in the journal Psychological Science, was given to the public this week. Results showed that individuals who took photographs of objects seen during a museum tour were less likely to remember facts than people who have only gazed at the items.

That is a possible lesson for a world that is growing accustomed to on-the-spot picture sharing on social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, stated the study’s author, Linda Henkel, a psychologist at Fairfield University. Very often, people grab their cameras almost thoughtlessly in order to capture a moment, almost to the point that they are actually missing what it is that they are photographing, said Henkel.

Henkel erected an experiment inside the university’s private museum, where students were taken on tours. They were instructed to take careful note of specific objects, either by taking pictures of the item or purely observing them. The next day, the student’s memories of various objects were tested. The participants ended up being less accurate when they attempted to recognize items they had photographed in comparison to the ones they only looked at.

Henkel decided to call such action the “photo-taking impairment effect.” In other words, taking a picture may cause memory loss.

She stated that when individuals rely on technology to do the remembering for them, basically counting on the camera to record an event instead of having to remember it themselves, this can cause a negative impression on how well anyone is able to recall experiences.

When a second group went on the tour, they ended up giving a slightly different finding of the test. The subjects who took photographs of a specific detail on objects by zooming in and out with the camera seemed to be able to preserve much more of a memory for entire items, not just for the portion that was focused upon.

Such varied results seem to show how the mind and the camera are definitely not the same. It appears that pictures can aid people in remembering events, but only if they take the time to both observe and review the object or event they are recording for posterity. However, this becomes harder when there is an over-abundance of photographs to view. This can make remembering the events or objects clearly more difficult.

It seems that Henkel’s study has also shown that having too many photographs, along with a lack of organization of the pictures for private memories does discourage people from opening up and talking about them, Henkel explained. In order to keep memories truly alive, a person should maintain access to their pictures. It seems to help if people also continue to interact with the photos they have, instead of just taking and keeping them. It sounds as though taking a picture may really cause memory loss.

By Kimberly Ruble


NY Daily News


The Independent

One Response to "Taking a Picture May Cause Memory Loss"

  1. Philatawgrapher   December 30, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    Henkel is wrong. Here’s why: http://effeleven.blogspot.com/2013/12/retort-there-is-no-photo-taking.html

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