Memory ‘v’ Experience – What’s more important?

Should we be thinking about our audience’s memory of communications and engagement
activities rather than their initial experience?

There is a really interesting TED Talk video about the difference between our experiencing selves and our remembering selves that I highly recommend you watch and is embedded below.

The experiencing self is where we feel and experience things around us in the moment and the remembering self looks back and reflects on our experiences as memory. At 3.45 mins in I started to see how perhaps the science here could be useful to comms and engagement professionals in our interactions with audiences.

Daniel Kahneman the TED Talk lecturer recounts a study from the 1990s and what is really fascinating when you compare the real time experience with the memory. In the study one person experienced more pain during a medical procedure than another (they were asked to log their pain in real time) in that he/she had more pain spikes and over a longer period of time than the other.

When later asked to recount how painful their experiences were the person that suffered more in the moment did not remember the pain as much as the person that suffered less spikes over a shorter period of time. What contributed to these results was the fact that the person who suffered less pain in the moment ended on a high pain moment, whereas the first person who suffered more ended on a relatively low pain moment.

So what does this tell us, perhaps that it’s not the sum total of a person’s experience of a painful or stressful situation, but how it feels at the end. What I’m wondering is how can we use this knowledge to improve employee engagement and successful delivery of culture change by improving the last ‘moment’ of our audience’s communication and engagement activities.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Wealie x

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One Response to Memory ‘v’ Experience – What’s more important?

  1. Richard Relph on March 20, 2014 at 2:39 am

    i think that the level is relevant to the perception of the individual.

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