Hope perspective: How to understand how memory works

According to Dr Lorraine Hope at the University of Portsmouth, memory makes us who we are, and although memory is reliable – it is not necessary for us to be false or deliberately economical with the truth to inaccurately state a fact/facts.

Dr Hope. University of Portsmouth.
Dr. Hope

Despite contemporary approach to memory and the success rate within applied psychological fields, there’s insufficient evidence to conclude that short-term and long-term memory are indeed distinct.

The only concrete evidence of a separate short-term and long-term memory is epitomised by patients with impaired memory capacity. For instance, as experienced through those with impaired short-term memory and intact long-term memory, and vice versa.

Consider the classic example;

In everyday life, we are often asked questions while our minds are on something else. We usually respond with “what did you say? or excuse me?” – before a sensational realisation that we do know what was asked.


Hope perspective: How is it unique?


Hope’s perspective skips the technicalities and the linear approach. Hope’s perspective is simplified, generalised, and representative of memory theories. In addition to its universality, I particularly admire Hope’s perspective because it shed light on how video games may be beneficial for memory. Dr Hope condenses how memory works into four the four areas below.


1. Memory is Social

According to Dr. Hope, memory is mostly social, we share our experiences with others to inform, build bridges, for fun and entertainment. The interactions we have with people, space and systems around us can have profound impact on how we can or can’t remember or recall information. According to Dr. Hope, this phenomenon is called contagion or social contagion. According to Hope and contemporary memory literature, the individual may not be aware of any contamination to traditional memory.


2. Memory is Suggestible

We can deduce from above (1) that memory is easily contaminated by the experiences that occur after the capture and consolidation of an experience. According to Hope, these distortions can take the form of minor errors to the manifestation of entirely false memories that never occurred. This support psychologists who have reported that an individual can certainly construct new models and recall false memories. It also supports any assumptions that the working or short-term memory consists of temporary activation’s from long-term memory.


3. Memory is Transient and needs help

Some people have a unique way of remembering and recalling certain types of information. There are many tools, techniques, and innovation available to aid memory, for instance, breaking down a telephone number into chunks for easy of capture and recall.

For example;


07999 888 999

Hope points out, that forgetting occurs quite rapidly, making it paramount to be able to access to information or experiences as soon as it’s encoded or required. As Memory depreciate over time, we naturally lose access to specific details and information.


4. Memory may need Space

Finally, Dr Hope points out that memory may need space to successfully and accurately complete a recall. Technically, recall often requires various and distinct, yet, connected elements to come together timely to deliver a request. Relaxation is important during the recall process or during information elicitation, which’s Dr Hope’s field. Hence, it may be necessary to revisit the space where the memory was initially captured.


Final Word

Hope and many psychologists have consistently emphasised that, although resilient, memory is also malleable and fallible, and it will eventually fade with time. Hence, it makes sense that the more deeply encoded information is and the more often it is retrieved for use, the easier it is to recall, thereby reducing distortions at the same time.

In addition to everyday approach to memory (encoding, consolidation and recall), I find  Hope’s Perspective to be an important ally in my ICT teachings. Learn more about Hope’s perspective here.



Published by John Adewole

Senior User Researcher

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