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Google makes us more likely to forget things

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Being able to easily access information through Google, makes us less likely to remember it, according to new research by the University of Cologne.

The study, conducted by Dr. Esther Kang, investigated how having information readily available online affects people’s management of knowledge.

The research revealed that when information is easily accessible and retrievable via search engines such as Google, people are not inclined to deeply process detailed information because they can easily find the information whenever needed.

“When individuals know they have easy access to information, they are more likely to remember how to access it, for example the search term, rather than remember the detailed information,” says Dr. Kang.

Dr Kang adds that this is because people are ‘cognitive misers’, with an inherent tendency to minimize the amount of information they have to hold in their head, and avoid how much effort it takes to remember details.

“A common perspective of online communication is that greater access to information leads to greater learning, however, this research offers a cautionary note about greater accessibility in that easy access may not directly guarantee users’ involvement in learning or paying attention to the information,” says Dr. Kang.

The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.
Kang, Esther (2022), “Easily Accessible but Easily Forgettable: How Ease of Access to Information Online Affects Cognitive Miserliness,” Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied. This article can be found at https://doi.org/10.1037/xap0000412.

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