Memories and (In)Accuracy

Mitch Hobish Growth, Leadership, Productivity

About four or five years ago, I found myself issuing caveats to others when describing something I remembered—or thought I did. The caveat was usually along the lines of, “I think I remember”, or “I’m not sure if I remember this or just think I remember this.” Call it the onset of entropic consciousness, or just aging, but there it is.

It turns out I’m not alone, and not just because of entropy (or age, if you prefer). A recent study found that memories change over time, and particularly owing to the circumstances around each retelling.

I must admit that I found this more than a bit disturbing. I have long been very pleased with my ability to recall things generally, and particularly things that (I thought) had happened, long ago. I know I’m good at recalling facts and figures—such ability helps me in my technical and coaching work. What I can’t figure out is what makes the difference when it comes to other things.

Questions: Can you trust your memory of events? How can you tell if what you’re relating is accurate? Does it matter? Would you subsequently make it known if you found that a memory as related to someone was inaccurate?