Discovery’s Cody Gough and Ashley Hamer discuss how our brains can mistake our intention to do a task as having already done it.
Publish Date: Mar 01, 2021
Discovery’s Cody Gough and Ashley Hamer discuss how our brains can mistake our intention to do a task as having already done it. Scientists found that when the intention and action share similar processes, the odds of assuming you've done it go up. The same goes for routine tasks that don't carry heavy consequences. One way to avoid this is by making a to-do list and sticking to it.
Hi. You're about to get smarter in just a few minutes with curiosity Daily from curiosity dot com. I'm Cody Gough, and I'm actually hammer. Today. You learn about why you have false memories of doing daily tasks, how we know that dogs might be able to sense Earth's magnetic field and the science behind why there's no up or down in space. Let's satisfy some curiosity. We're all guilty of it. You could have sworn you answered that text message, but it turns out you left your friend on red brutal. You thought you turned the dryer on. But your laundry is still sopping wet when you go to take it out. Well, a new study explains why this happens. It turns out that our brains sometimes mistake our intention to do a task for actually having done it. To learn more about the cause of this confusion, scientists at the University of Illinois designed five experiments that asked participants to hire fake models for a fake clothing catalog. To do that, they had to screen resumes. I'm repetitive task that was made more complicated when an intern mistakenly mismatched some of the photos and applications. The correct and mismatched applications were each labeled that way. If a correct application came up, the participant was asked to make a final hiring decision. If the application was mismatched, they were asked to decide whether they intended to hire or reject the candidates, assuming they could see the matching application later on. In some experiments, they used the same keystroke to mark their intention as their actual decision. In other situations, they were just asked to remember what they chose. A little while later, the participants had to recall the decision they had made for each applicant. Did they hire the person or only intend to hire them? The team found that people were most likely to miss Remember when the intention and action shared similar mental or physical processes. So, like when you intend to text your friend back, it's super similar to actually doing it. You look at your phone, you tap your screen, you read their message and think about your response. If you had to respond to your friend with flag signals or something, you probably remember that a lot more easily. You're also more likely to create false memories of completing routine tasks that don't carry heavy consequences. That's because your brain is checked out. You do the task so consistently that your brain doesn't store much information about your intention to do it or the behavior itself. So how can you save you from yourself? Well, act fast. Doing the darn thing rather than thinking about your intention to do it, is the surest way to see that it's done when you can't take action immediately. Take some advice from this study. When participants actually wrote down whether they did the thing, they were much less likely to misremember. So your to do list is your friend. Leave a paper trail and you may clear the fog off false memories For a while. This was the on leeway if I could remember whether I did insulin in the morning. Oh, that's so scary. My brother's the same way. I can't imagine forgetting. I've been out to dinner with my wife and literally turn and asked her. Hate it. I just do insulin or not, because you just it's just such a built in thing. It's, you know, right and the consequences air a lot worse than just forgetting your laundry. Yeah, they're bad. They're very bad for those who don't know. I mean, like, if you take a double dose, then you're in a whole lot of trouble. You better it gets and carbs in you. But then, if you don't do it, then your blood sugar is really high, and that's not comfortable. So but we got We have one of those white board magnet calendars on our fridge, and it's got the seven days of the week on it. So I just put a little check mark next Monday. Tuesday Wednesday, whenever I do my morning dose into the least, I know my one thing. But even important stuff sometimes, Yeah, if it's something that you do all the time, it just becomes automatic, and it's really easy to forget it.