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In psychology, the self-reference effect is a phenomenon of pertaining the information to oneself in order to remember and recall it more effectively. Compared to any other processed data, self reference has repeatedly demonstrated the best results in remembering the information.
Perhaps, the most effective way to convey this point was the study that featured38 people aged from 19 to 43 years. During an online research, the participants were asked to identify the target words as either self-referent or semantic. Following a short distraction periods, the participants were requested to recall the words presented to them in the first part of the study, and the results of the research are very definitive: the information associated with oneself had a better recall rate compared to the data established in semantic processing.
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Numerous psychological studies have found that as the human psyche is getting more mature, a special information processing pattern is developed. The ways we store and retrieve incoming data largely differs and depends mainly on the source material and its origin. While certain types of data can be stored for a long time, others cannot be retrieved already after a short period. These mechanisms led to the introduction of the concept of processing depth, where depth stands for the level of semantic engagement. As the depth of processing was researched further, scholars found the phenomenon of the self reference effect. According to this concept, participants completing self-referential challenges produced better results compared to structural, semantic, and phonemic tasks.
Since the first scientific works on the subject of self-reference effect were published, more and more psychiatry scholars devoted their time to researching the topic. As a result, we now have an extensive scientific base touching on every aspect of this phenomenon, from its use in classroom settings to the way self-reference effectiveness changes over the age of the person. Regardless of the findings of those numerous researches, we can clearly state that the self-reference effect is a very powerful memory mechanism that is extremely useful for storing and retrieving data from memory.
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