Information Without Emotion is Rarely Retained

Information Without Emotion is Rarely Retained

This idea is framed differently in various places, but the most concise version comes from Tony Robbins.

Robbins states:

We’ve all been put to sleep by somebody who’s told us all these wonderful facts that didn’t matter because information without emotion is not retained.

Emotions in learning

Emotions play a large part not only in garnering attention, but also in memory and learning. The amygdala (the brain’s emotional gatekeeper) imprints memory when experiences evoke strong emotions.

This is why we all remember where we were when the combination of context and emotion helps cement vivid memories. An example would be remembering exactly where you were when the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001.

Exercise caution

Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that you should just start a class, lecture, or speech by scaring participants.

Research suggests that it is the emotions aroused, not the personal significance of the event, that makes such events easier to remember.

The memory of strongly emotional images and events may be at the expense of other information that you may intend to focus on. You may also be less likely to remember information if it is followed by something that is strongly emotional.

Some other factors to remember:

  • Emotionally charged events are usually remembered better
  • Pleasant emotions are usually remembered better than unpleasant ones
  • Positive memories contain more contextual details that helps connect to long term memory
  • Strong emotion can impair memory for less emotional events and information experienced at the same time
  • It’s the emotional arousal that helps supercharge memory…not the importance of the information

 

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Also published on Medium.

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