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‘The Google Effect’, are people becoming too lazy?

A new survey released by a psychologist, Betsy Sparrow of Columbia University says that ‘The Google Effect’ is changing the way people’s brains choose to remember.

We all know the situation, you get into a conversation with a friend and they say ‘I Google’d this’, or ‘Google it!’. With the search engine being such a big part of everyone’s lives, it appears that it is actually altering our brains. Well according to Betsy Sparrow.

Her teams report, published in today’s issue of Science isn’t claiming that the search engine is making people dumber, but it is indicating that people are becoming more reliant on Google and search engines in general.

She says “We’re not thoughtless empty-headed people who don’t have memories anymore. But we are becoming particularly adept at remembering where to go to find things. And that’s kind of amazing.”

Sparrow and her team conducted a series of four experiments. The memory test was particularly interesting, because 40 pieces of trivia were keyed into a computer via people (test subjects) involved. 50% thought that the information would be saved and the other half believed the information would be purged.

Those people who thought it wouldn’t be stored to disk made more of an active effort to remember the data, knowing that they might not be able to find it again later.

Another experiment asked people to remember a trivia statement, but also a folder, out of five, in which it was stored. People were able to recall the folder, better than the content of the folder.

This is classed as ‘transactive memory’ which means that the information location can be recalled, but not the actual data itself.  Sparrow gave an example “I love watching baseball. But I know my husband knows baseball facts, so when I want to know something I ask him, and I don’t bother to remember it.”

Sparrow added “Our brains rely on the Internet for memory in much the same way they rely on the memory of a friend, family member, or co-worker. We remember less through knowing information itself than by knowing where the information can be found.”

Kitguru says: Are you a child of the search engine? Find it hard to remember the details?

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