Chapter 8. von Restorff Effect

When multiple similar objects are present, the one that differs from the rest is most likely to be remembered.

Overview

Thousands of years of evolution have given humans an incredibly sophisticated system of vision and cognitive processing. We can identify objects in fractions of a second, we possess superior pattern processing capabilities in comparison to other living things, and we have an innate ability to spot small differences in objects.1 These traits have proven valuable for the survival of our species, and they remain with us to this day, affecting how we perceive and process the world around us. Our focus is not only dictated by the goals we seek to accomplish, but also directed by these instinctual abilities.

They also affect how we encode information in memory, and therefore our ability to recall items and events at a later point—recognition is prioritized over recall. When ...

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