Should you bring a shopping list when heading to store or trust your memory?
Researchers at four Universities partnered on a study to answer this question. They observed more than 700 consumers in different scenarios, and their findings are available online the journal of Consumer Psychology. The investigators were eager to find out if people could predict how many items on the list they would remember to buy once they started shopping after they spent 10 minutes reading a story.
In one investigation the investigators gave people a list of 10 to 20 fruits and vegetables. Half of the participants received a list with familiar items such as apples, bananas and broccoli, while the list for the others half included uncommon items like beetroots, coconuts and figs.
The researchers discovered that when people were shopping for things they don’t buy regularly, they had better success remembering everything if they walked through all the aisles rather than relying on memory.
“One of our key findings is that people don’t correctly anticipate when they are more likely to forget items.” Said Dainel Fernandes, assistant professor of marketing at Catholic University of Portugal.
“When we have something in our mind, it is hard to imagine that we will forget it,” Fernandes noted. This failure to predict our forgetfulness suggests that people should always bring a shopping list, he explained. These findings could also have broader implications for performance at work.
“We often rely on our memories to perform familiar tasks at work, and those tasks will come easily to mind, but unfamiliar tasks are hard to recall,” Fernandes said. “To maximize our effectiveness on the job, it’s important to pay special attention to those less familiar tasks and put them on the agenda,” Fernandes noted.