mooorning my minions,
New week and lets start with something stimulating for yo brains.
Im sure you are all familiar with the cyborgian agent known as GOOGLE SEARCH
(if not [omg] click ☞ here)
visualization via Crisp360 Link ☞ Here
“We are becoming symbiotic with our computer tools,
growing into interconnected systems that remember less
by knowing information than by knowing where the information can be found.”
This sentence comes from the findings of a new study conducted by psychology professors at Columbia University, the University Of Wisconsin-Madison, and Harvard University.
Essentially, the study asserts that internet search is destroying our “internal memory.”
“When people expect to have future access to information, they have lower rates of recall of the information itself and enhanced recall instead for where to access it.”
In other words, instead of remembering the name of every U.S. President, we now remember where we can find those names on Google (“external memory”).
“It may be no more that nostalgia at this point, however, to wish we were less dependent on our gadgets,” the study concludes. Perhaps relying on external memory isn’t such a bad thing—unless your smartphone runs out of battery, that is.
Google Effects on Memory:
of Having Information at Our Fingertips
The advent of the Internet, with sophisticated algorithmic
search engines, has made accessing information as easy as
lifting a finger. No longer do we have to make costly
efforts to find the things we want. We can “Google” the
old classmate, find articles online, or look up the actor
who was on the tip of our tongue. The results of four
studies suggest that when faced with difficult questions,
people are primed to think about computers and that
when people expect to have future access to information,
they have lower rates of recall of the information itself
and enhanced recall instead for where to access it. The
Internet has become a primary form of external or
transactive memory, where information is stored
collectively outside ourselves.
In a development that would have seemed extraordinary just
over a decade ago, many of us have constant access to
information. If we need to find out the score of a ballgame,
learn how to perform a complicated statistical test, or simply
remember the name of the actress in the classic movie we are
viewing, we need only turn to our laptops, tablets, or
smartphones and we can find the answers immediately. It has
become so commonplace to look up the answer to any
question the moment it occurs, it can feel like going through
withdrawal when we can’t find out something immediately.
We are seldom offline unless by choice and it is hard to
remember how we found information before the Internet
became a ubiquitous presence in our lives. The Internet, with
its search engines such as Google and databases such as
IMDB and the information stored there, has become an
external memory source that we can access at any time.
Storing information externally is nothing particularly
novel, even before the advent of computers. In any long term
relationship, a team work environment, or other ongoing
group, people typically develop a group or transactive
memory (1), a combination of memory stores held directly by
individuals and the memory stores they can access because
they know someone who knows that information.
* * *
The present research explores whether having online access to
search engines, databases, and the like, has become a primary
transactive memory source in itself. We investigate whether
the Internet has become an external memory system that is
primed by the need to acquire information. If asked the
question whether there are any countries with only one color
in their flag, for example, do we think about flags—or
immediately think to go online to find out? Our research then
tested if, once information has been accessed, our internal
encoding is increased for where the information is to be found
rather than for the information itself.
In Experiment 1, participants were tested in two withinsubject conditions (4).
Participants answered either easy or
hard yes/no trivia questions, in two blocks. Each block was
followed by a modified Stroop task (a color naming task with
words presented in either blue or red) to test reaction times to
matched computer and non-computer terms (including
general and brand names for both word groups). People who
have been disposed to think about a certain topic typically
show slowed reaction times (RTs) for naming the color of the
word when the word itself is of interest and is more
accessible, because the word captures attention and interferes
with the fastest possible color naming.
Paired within-subject t-tests were conducted on colornaming reaction times to computer and general words after
the easy and difficult question blocks.
Confirming our hypothesis, computer words were more accessible
(colornaming RT M = 712 milliseconds (ms), SD = 413 ms) than
general words (M = 591 ms, SD = 204 ms) after participants
had encountered a series of questions to which they did not
know the answers, t(68) = 3.26, P < .003, two-tailed. It seems
that when we are faced with a gap in our knowledge, we are
primed to turn to the computer to rectify the situation.
Computer terms also interfered somewhat more with color
naming (M = 603 ms, SD = 193 ms) than general terms
(M =559 ms, SD = 182 ms) after easy questions,
t (68) = 2.98, P < 005,
suggesting that the computer may be primed when the concept of knowledge in general is activated.
Comparison using a repeated measures analysis of
variance (ANOVA) of specific search engines
(Google/Yahoo) and general consumer good brand names
(Target/Nike) revealed an interaction with easy vs. hard
question blocks, F(1,66) = 5.02, P < .03, such that search
engine brands after both easy (M = 638 ms, SD = 260 ms) and
hard questions (M = 818 ms, SD = 517 ms) created more
interference than general brands after easy
(M = 584 ms, SD =220 ms) and hard
(M = 614 ms, SD = 226 ms )
Simple effects tests showed the interaction was driven by a
significant increase in RT for the two search engine terms
after the hard question block, F(1,66) = 4.44, P < .04
Although the concept of knowledge in general seems to prime
thoughts of computers, even when answers are known; not
knowing the answer to general knowledge questions primes
the need to search for the answer, and subsequently computer
interference is particularly acute.
In Experiment 2, we tested whether people remembered
information they expected to have later access to—as they
might with information they could look up online (4).
Participants were tested in a 2 × 2 between-subject
experiment by reading 40 memorable trivia statements of the
type that one would look up online (both of the new
information variety e.g., “An ostrich’s eye is bigger than its
brain” and information that may be remembered generally,
but not in specific details, e.g., “The space shuttle Columbia
disintegrated during re-entry over Texas in Feb. 2003.”).
They then typed them into the computer to assure attention
(and also to provide a more generous test of memory). Half
the participants believed the computer would save what was
typed; half believed the item would be erased. In addition,
half of the participants in each of the saved and erased
conditions were asked explicitly to try to remember the
information. After the reading and typing task, participants
wrote down as many of the statements as they could remember
READ the rest of the paper
Betsy Sparrow,* Jenny Liu, Daniel M. Wegner
Department of Psychology, Columbia University, 1190 Amsterdam Avenue, New York, NY 10027, USA.
Department of Psychology, University of Wisconsin–Madison, 1202 West Johnson Street, Madison, WI 53706, USA.
Department of Psychology, Harvard University, 33 Kirkland Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: email@example.com