It’s official - if you want to remember more of your day out, don’t spend the whole time taking photos of everything.
Most of us would assume that snapshots enhance one’s memories, but a new study shows that taking pictures, rather than concentrating on the event, can prevent memory-retention.
In a new study entitled ‘Point and Shoot Memories’, Dr Linda Henkel of Fairfield University in Connecticut writes that subjects had worse recall of objects, and for specific object details, when they took photos of them.
"People so often whip out their cameras almost mindlessly to capture a moment, to the point that they are missing what is happening right in front of them," she said.
Dr Henkel set up an experiment where students toured a museum and were asked to take note of certain objects, either by photographing them or by simply observing them. The next day, their memories of the trip were tested.
Results showed that the average participant provided significantly less accurate recall of the objects they had photographed, compared to those they had observed – a phenomenon Henkel calls “a photo-taking-impairment effect”.
A second test had similar results – but found that zooming in on a particular part of an object with the camera seemed to help with the preservation of memories.
Although the study is limited to a museum setting, Henkel believes that the phenomenon applies in virtually all walks of life.
"Research has suggested that the sheer volume and lack of organisation of digital photos for personal memories discourages many people from accessing and reminiscing about them," she says.
"In order to remember, we have to access and interact with the photos, rather than just amass them."