Experience > memory > culture

March 28th, 2012 by Ben Claxton

The riddle of experience and memory

Experience vs Memory

In this fascinating TED talk, Daniel Kahneman talks about how our experiencing selves and remembering selves are very different. We may experience an event one way but remember it very differently. He goes on to say that the correlation between our experiences and memories is 0.5 at most – experiences don’t directly translate themselves into memories. In fact, most experiences don’t leave a trace on our memories at all. What our memory does is tell us a story about our experiences, and we give much more weight to these stories. And yet, memories still need raw material to be constructed.

Individual vs Collective

“…moods move through society. It’s something we’re often unaware of these days because we’re so obsessed by our own experience, that the mood we feel is probably common to a lot of other people at this point in time…sociologists like Durkheim…told us something that we forget these days, which is that we’re actually very similar to each other. And a lot of what we think comes from inside of us actually comes from outside.”

Adam Curtis interviewed here http://www.e-flux.com/journal/in-conversation-with-adam-curtis-part-i/

However, our experiences may not entirely be our own. We pick up on moods around us and internalise them, make them our own. At what point do individual experiences (and memories of those experiences) add up to group experiences and the stories we collectively tell ourselves, our ‘culture’?


  • How many experiences make a memory?
  • How do we make more experiences more memorable?
  • Is the end of an experience the most important bit?
  • Is there such a thing as ‘experience inertia’ – it takes a few good experiences to build a positive disposition towards something (e.g. person, company, product) but also a few bad experiences to get us to change our opinion? Do we build up credit in the bank? And to what extent?
  • How much do we appropriate other people’s experiences?

These are some of the questions we’d like to explore, using nativeye to capture experiences but also test and match opinion and feelings over time.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 28th, 2012 at 9:46 am and is filed under ideas, research. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One Response to “Experience > memory > culture”

  1. […] you to incorporate both the long and short term into your research, for example when exploring the experience vs memory paradigm . This entry was posted on Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 10:26 am and is filed under […]

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