The surprising reason why you can’t remember taking a pill or turning off the stove

Is the stove still on? Did you lock the car? Have you taken that pill? Did Fido/Fishy/Kitty get fed today, or was that yesterday?

A new breakthrough in psychology research explains why these questions befuddle otherwise bright and agile minds: Your memory confuses your intention to do it with the action itself, and creates a false memory of the task.

A team of researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign realized that people tend to misremember “mundane behaviors”—i.e., commonplace tasks that are done repeatedly, such as remembering to turn off the oven, which is often performed alongside other similar behaviors, such as turning on the sink or dishwasher.


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