Want to remember your vacation? take fewer photos

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Okay, let’s have a show of hands – how many people take photos of every single aspect of their vacation? We’re gonna assume that most of you put your hands up because it’s fair to say that most of us live for the ‘Gram. We spend time choosing the right angle, we find the best lighting, and then we finish off our vacation photographs with the best filters that manage to hide the spot on our nose, and the fact that our skin is a little red. Although we love it when the love hearts and comments fill our Instagram notifications, have you ever wondered how taking photos affects your vacation? Well, according to one study, taking photos of your vacation can drastically affect your memory of your trip…

The study

So what is the study in question? Well, it was published by the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology in May 2018, and is titled ‘Media usage diminishes memory for experiences.’ The study was undertaken by a group of psychologists who aimed to test whether taking photos and using media while on your vacation will affect how much you remember of your trip. To do this, they split participants into three groups, and each group was taken on a self-guided tour, where they were instructed to take photographs and/or share these mediums with others.

Tour 1

The first tour consisted of 132 participants, who were taken to the beautiful church located within the grounds of Stanford University, and asked to explore at their own will. They were then given three options; they could either take a minimum of five photos to keep for their own enjoyment, or they could share them on social media, or they could choose to not take any photographs at all. A couple of weeks later, they were asked to return to the church during a self-guided tour, where they embarked on a memory test to see how much of the church they remembered from their first encounter. The researchers found that those who had taken photographs remembered less than those who did not.

Tour 2

The second group of participants, which consisted of 238 people, were also asked to explore the church. Yet, this time they were asked to explore with another person they didn’t know, rather than on their own – although they were not allowed to converse with each other. Each pair was given a different condition in which to undertake the tour. In some pairs, one participant was not allowed to take photographs while the other took them for themselves. In other pairs, one participant was not allowed to take photographs while the other took photos for Facebook. In the last group, both participants were not allowed to take photos. Once more, the researchers found that those who did not take photographs remembered more on their second return.

To conclude

The psychologists also undertook a third test which came to similar conclusions, which led them to believe that taking photographs of your vacation is not one of the best ways to remember your trip. However, it’s important to note that in all three conditions, taking photographs of an experience did not change their levels of enjoyment while on their trip. This means that although you can still enjoy your vacation while taking photographs, you might not remember as much…

Are you going on vacation soon? Well, psychologists state that if you really want to remember your trip, you should put down your phone and enjoy it through your eyes, rather than through a lens.

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