- Idea Lounge
- Memories Are Skewed
In the last post, we talked about how we are not good at predicting our own future behaviors. Well then thank goodness for our memories, right? Wrong! People often think of memories as the photo or video album of the brain that accurately captures details of events from the past. Memories are like photographs in many respects, let’s just say highly ‘photoshopped’, with added detail and the removal of imperfections.
Our memories are usually based on an actual experience, but often specific details are not salient enough at the time to be encoded into our brain’s photo bank, so when we go to retrieve it, our brains fill in the pieces that failed to be encoded in the first place. Eyewitness memory and recall is an excellent example of this. People who witness a crime are often unable to recall all of the detail of the event, and as a result, based on what they ‘expect’ would have happened, details are painted in.
While this is an extreme example of how our memory can fail us, a more common example is that of confirmation bias. If you don’t like your mother-in law, you can probably come up with a dozen stories of when why she irritates you, and less so of when she was being pleasant. We are able to recall memories that are consistent with our beliefs more than we can recall memories that are inconsistent with them.
The combination of filling in details, and remembering what fits our perceptions can also have a positive or a negative impact on brands. Knowing this means that a brand must have a strong foundation in brand equity, as this gives some protection from inaccurate brand perceptions, while a weaker foundation leaves a brand open to false or exaggerated negative beliefs. This is just another reason why brand equity and brand health are so important. So, if simply asking people what they will do in the future isn’t enough, you need another way to predict behavior.