Your Ability To Remember Common Objects Is Pitiful
If you watched 48 Hours over the weekend -- it featured Frank O'Connell, a local man convicted of murder and imprisoned for years based on recanted eyewitness testimony and twisted evidence -- you know that what people "see" isn't always reality.
stephane / Flickr
A new UCLA study seems to confirm that.
Researchers asked 54 people who work in the same building to identify the location of a seemingly crucial and outstanding object all of them walk by on workdays:
Only about 1 in four (24 percent) could identify the location of the flaming red ... fire extinguisher, says UCLA.
Wow. You suck at this, people.
The research is being published in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.
Alan Castel, associate professor of psychology at UCLA and the study's lead author:
Just because we've seen something many times doesn't mean we remember it or even notice it. If I asked you to draw the front of a dime or the front of a dollar bill from memory, how well could you do that? You might get some elements right.
He indicates that it's reasonable you don't notice everyday objects -- it frees your mind to catalog more important things.
But the prof says you might want to think twice about the location of safety and life-saving equipment at home, work and on airplanes.
And the good news is that a few months after most of the study participants flunked the test, all of them were able to ID the location of the extinguisher. UCLA:
... Making errors during training is useful. As with the fire extinguisher exercise, errors -- or simple oversights -- can teach us that we don't know something well and need to pay more attention in order to remember it.