Thursday, September 13, 2007

remembered experience

This week I've been giving myself a triangular, facial tan mark by keeping my nose in the hilarious and insightful book, Stumbling On Happiness by Daniel Gilbert. There's a bit in it that supported a long-term belief of mine: that the retelling of an experience is more impactful than the experience itself. It's why I bang on about social currency a lot and insist that 'amplification' should not be an afterthought, but a considered as a building block of the core idea itself.

Gilbert describes an experiment on 'remembered experience' where participants were shown colour swatches and then had to pick the colour out a few moments later. One group of participants were given this straight test and a second group were asked to spend the interval describing the colour out loud. What the scientists discovered was:

"The describers' verbal descriptions of their experiences overwrote their memories of the experiences themselves, and they ended up remembering not what they had experienced but what they had said about what they experienced."

This is worth remembering when 99% of people are experiencing something second-hand. Just like sharing great holiday snaps from an average vacation, with the right approach and tools, the passing on of the experience won't just stay true to the original; it will surpass it. Powerful idea.



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