Interactivity Can Lead To Completely False Memories?

from the is-that-a-problem? dept

It’s probably no surprise that more interactive websites can help people better remember the content they find on those sites, but how much of those memories are accurate? A new study, pointed out by Clive Thompson, suggests that interactivity can often lead to false memories as well. That is, people who checked out an interactive website about a new camera later believed that they had seen it have features that it simply didn’t have — and which weren’t on the website. This happened much more frequently than those who saw the same camera described on a more static website. Thompson wonders if (or how) this impacts marketing campaigns. It’s great that customers remember more in playing around with an interactive website, but what if they remember false information? It can lead to false expectations and, later on, quite angry customers who absolutely will claim to remember promises that a product can do something it cannot. Of course, looking at the actual research report, the researchers admit that this particular experiment involved whether subjects recognized features when presented to them, not whether they recalled them with no prompting at all — which raises a bunch of different issues. It could actually mean that people don’t remember false memories, but have simply been primed to accept them when later presented (which again raises questions for marketers). Overall, though, it certainly does highlight some interesting things about how marketers need to be careful about their interactive advertising efforts, as people react differently to them than static ads.

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Comments on “Interactivity Can Lead To Completely False Memories?”

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Gary Loffler (user link) says:

camera functions

This sounds very much like a memory study that was done a while ago where the researchers asked leading questions to people who had gone to Disney World as kids. They asked if they saw non-Disney characters such as Wile E. Coyote. If the answer was yes, they asked more questions,such as did Wile E pose with you for a picture. A large number of people replied yes again, even though there was no way for the memory to be true. Depending on how this new study was done (asking if you remember a feature vs. what features do you remember), the study directors could be influencing the results.

Anonymous Coward says:

Dr. Obvious says ...

The subject would have to actually READ the specs on a static website, whereas they’d be too busy playing with (e.g.) a 360-degree view on an interactive site. While “showing” is, in many cases, better than “saying,” it is not surprising that subjects made assumptions (imagined features) based on an experience that de-emphasized the importance of simply reading a list of features.

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