“The weirder something seems, the more we remember it.”
Of all the memories of you and your best friend, you definitely remember the ones in which you both pranked somebody together.
Now, Read the following words:
Desk, Chair, Bed, Table, Chipmunk, Dresser, Stool, Couch.
What do you remember the most??
Chipmunk!! Why? As it stands out against the other words in its meaning.
In psychology, this is called the Von Restorff effect, also known as The Isolation Effect.
It predicts an item that “stands out like a sore thumb” is more likely to be remembered than other items.
So, by this logic someone can also argue that they are the most popular kid in the school. As they are always made to stand outside the class!
But being different doesn't necessarily mean better. Being different is more memorable, but you need to be positively remembered for standing out from the crowd. Like winning a medal for your school or topping your class.
The Von Restorff effect was coined by German psychiatrist and pediatrician Hedwig von Restorff (1906–1962), who, in her 1933 study, found that when participants were presented with a list of categorically similar items with one distinctive item on the list then their memory for the item was improved.
There are a lot of ways for the Von Restorff Effect to kick in.
Probably you have already taken advantage of this effect without even knowing it!
Have you ever highlighted information in a book?
The highlighted words on the page are more likely to stick in your mind than the words that are just on the page without any sort of special marking.
Advertisers, content creators and designers often use this effect to help sell products, build memorable logos and campaigns.
Bolded text, italic text, and text in different colors are also used to recruit the Von Restorff Effect and isolate the message away from the rest of the text.
“Novelty is important for encoding information into memory.”
You can also credit the Von Restorff Effect in helping kickstart the fame and careers of artists like Prateek Kuhad or BTS or Zakir Khan.
When someone is different, they stand out. When people stand out, they are going to be called back, invited to perform, or simply remembered more than the singers, actors, or performers that fade into the background!
But, why should it concern you??
How does your approach to preparation stand out?
Let's find out!
How to Apply the Von Restorff Effect
If you want people to remember something, make it stand out. You can be very creative with this.
But remember, there can also be a reverse effect. Say you remember the unique fact but forgot the common one. So, you have to be careful while applying this effect.
If you are trying to remember a set of information, think about what pieces stick out the most and what pieces are most important to remember.
There have been many studies that demonstrate and confirm the Von Restorff effect in children and college-aged students.
So how can you benefit from Von Restorff’s Effect?
1. Making a rhyme/story -
Traditionally, you must have tried mugging up the Periodic table or Calculus Formulas or Organic Inorganic Reactions or Years in history by repeating or writing them as many times. But still, you must have forgotten or got stuck while remembering. Next time sing them or make a story out of it.
For Example, “Chemistry Sir Gaye Sunday Pub mein” to remember the Carbon Group in Periodic Table. This is popularly called Mnemonics.
2. The different shapes of the concept -
As long as man has evolved into a being that can comprehend his own creation.
This technique has been used for a very long time to remember the history or important events or teachings from divine sources. And it boils down to simplifying the information from words into shapes and figures.
So, make a habit of drawing your own figures after you get hold of a concept.
3. Watching and visualizing -
Watching videos and clips around your study material can help you illustrate an idea or event much more clearly than reading a textbook.
So, to divert your attention away from words, you can use YouTube or Documentaries or an occasional visit to the monument/museum.
This will not only enhance your experience of studying but will also help you understand what's not in the books.
Takeaway for Students
1. Sing what you study.
2. Make important information or key actions visually distinctive.
3. Create meaningful, helpful graphs, using color, shape, and position to accentuate the meaning.
4. Think strategically about what you wish to highlight. What is your rationale? Is it part of the most important topics that you need to revise?
5. It’s important to implement this effect in a way that doesn’t dilute its power. As with great power comes greater responsibility.
6. Break the routine and learn from the stories.
7. Simplify and conquer your textbook.
In conclusion, you don't need to grow horns on your head to stand out. You are unique in your own sense. Embrace your uniqueness and create your own path to success.
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