How You Make Memories Together

Past research has shown that people are better at remembering things individually than in pairs or groups. If you have a list of names to recall, you’re likely to do better on your own than if you were paired up with another person. A recent study has found an exception, though: long-term couples are pretty great at sharing memories.

The study, published in Memory Studies, has found that couples working together on memorizing a list do just as well as individuals, while random pairs tend to do much worse. During the experiment, however, they found that couples had a great deal of back-and-forth whilst recalling their lists, and this provoked further study.

Researchers found that the dialogue generated led to memory benefits to both partners in three areas. Firstly, couples are able to figure out the kind of thing that gets stuck on the tip of your tongue by talking it out and feeding each other prompts. Secondly, events are more richly described in terms of their sensory detail. Thirdly, the observations of one partner might give the other a new perspective on events. Furthermore, couples who rated their intimacy better were also better at event details.

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