Explicit Memories and Implicit Memories
In everyday life, when people speak of memory, they are almost always
speaking about what psychologists would call explicit memories. An explicit
memory is a conscious or intentional recollection, usually of facts, names,
events, or other things that a person can state or declare. There is another
kind of memory that is not conscious. Memories of this kind are called implicit
memories. An individual can have an experience that he or she cannot consciously
recall yet still display reactions that indicate the experience has been somehow
recorded in his or her brain.
Now listen to part of a lecture on this topic in a psychology class.
(male professor) OK, um, the first kind of memory, we’re all very familiar
with this, right? You probably remember what you had for dinner last night. You
have a conscious memory of last night’s dinner so, um, if I ask you what did you
eat last night, you could tell me.
But these other kinds of memories, implicit memories, they work differently.
Let’s take an example from the world of advertising. When you are driving along
a highway, you see plenty of billboards, you know, road side advertisements. You
certainly don’t remember them all, but they still affect you. Marketing
researchers have shown, well to be specific, let’s say there’s a billboard on
the highway advertising, uh, a car called the Panther. The ad shows a big
picture of the car and above the car, in huge letters, is the name of the car,
Panther. A lot of people drive by the billboard, but ask those drivers later if
they saw any advertisements for cars, and well, they’ll think about it and a lot
of them will say no. They honestly don’t remember seeing any. They have no
conscious memory of the Panther billboard.
So, you ask these same people a different question. You ask, um, OK, you ask
them to name an animal starting with a letter P. What do you think they’ll
answer? Do they say Pig? Pig is the most common animal that starts with the
letter P. But they don’t say Pig. They say Panther! The billboard had an effect,
even though the drivers don’t remember ever seeing it.
Using the example of the car advertisement, explain what is meant by implicit