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Selective retention, in relating to the mind, is the process whereby people more accurately remember messages that are closer to their interests, values and beliefs, than those that are in contrast with their values and beliefs, selecting what to keep in the memory, narrowing the information flow.[1]

Examples include:

Outside the theory of memory and mind, selective retention may also refer to the retaining of contractual agreements upon moving on in open politics or of physical phenotypes in eugenic methods of propagation of traits and features of a genome, among other fields where action can impose a stratum of creative limitation.

The evolutionary development of selective memory and retention is theorized to stem from the drive to belong.[3] Social drive is considered to be an equivalent to other drives (i.e. hunger) in evolutionary terms.[3] This definition stems from the idea that people only retain socially relevant information and are constantly processing information that will increase the ability to be part of a group. If survival is dependent on the group through information shared between individuals, researchers found that the perception and retention of certain information increases . When in a new situation or surrounded by a desired group of people, there may be a heightened attention to details and the environmental and social cues. Information that is relevant to situations is brought to the surface again through processes like semantic and episodic memory.[4] These processes provide organization to the memories encoded and help the recall of pertinent properties and links.[4] If an individual is in an ambiguous social situation, past stored information can arise through the linking of semantic information, or specific recall of socially relevant actions and aid survival.

Another application on the social advantage in selective memory is with reproduction. Testing female undergraduate students in recall found that in a short video with a male introducing themselves and being considered for a future partner, participants selectively remembered more of what he said than of what he looked like.[5] This is supporting of the notion that the purpose of evolution is to pass on genetic information and that selective retention plays a part in that. Seitz, Polack, and Miller [5](2018) also found that memory performance increased when stimulated by reproductive cues. In an evolutionary perspective, the organization of the semantic memory may link and connect this type of information more strongly to influence recall and therefore the survival of the individual.

While this process seems to have an evolutionary advantage, evidence suggests that when memories are selectively recalled other information is lost.[6] There can be danger in this because, while the forgotten information may not be pertinent in the current moment, it may be needed later. Researchers also found that during sleep emotional memories have higher retention than non-emotional or neutral memories.[7] But this storage process does not occur only in sleep, but highly stressful situations also induce this selective type of memory consolidation.[7] A benefit of this is that when a moment in time produces an intense emotional reaction, it is saved for better or for worse. But a consequence of emotional memories having priority is that pertinent neutral information may be lost in the aftermath of an emotional event. When thinking of the function of an item rather than the emotional concept of it, recall was higher.[5] The use of an item may provide higher survival skills than just imagining the object and the emotions behind it.

Factors that influence selective retention

See also


  1. ^ Chandler, Daniel; Munday, Rod (2011). Oxford Reference. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199568758.001.0001. ISBN 9780199568758. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  2. ^ Encyclopedia of public relations. Heath, Robert L. (Robert Lawrence), 1941-. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 2005. ISBN 978-0761927334. OCLC 55008344.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  3. ^ a b Gardner, Wendi L.; Pickett, Cynthia L.; Brewer, Marilynn B. (April 2000). "Social Exclusion and Selective Memory: How the Need to belong Influences Memory for Social Events". Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 26 (4): 486–496. doi:10.1177/0146167200266007. ISSN 0146-1672. S2CID 15626588.
  4. ^ a b Baddeley, Alan; Eysenck, Michael; Anderson, Michael (2009). Memory. New York, NY: Psychology Press. ISBN 978-1-84872-001-5
  5. ^ a b c Seitz, Benjamin M.; Polack, Cody W.; Miller, Ralph R. (August 2018). "Adaptive memory: Is there a reproduction-processing effect?". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 44 (8): 1167–1179. doi:10.1037/xlm0000513. ISSN 1939-1285. PMC 6002887. PMID 29239625.
  6. ^ Bäuml, Karl-Heinz T.; Dobler, Ina M. (2015). "The two faces of selective memory retrieval: Recall specificity of the detrimental but not the beneficial effect". Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. 41 (1): 246–253. doi:10.1037/xlm0000008. ISSN 1939-1285. PMID 24707790. S2CID 1940551.
  7. ^ a b Payne, Jessica D; Kensinger, Elizabeth A (2018-02-01). "Stress, sleep, and the selective consolidation of emotional memories". Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 19: 36–43. doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2017.09.006. ISSN 2352-1546. S2CID 53147544.
  8. ^ Van Dongen, E. V., Thielen, J., Takashima, A., Barth, M., Fernández, G., & Felmingham, K. (2012). Sleep Supports Selective Retention of Associative Memories Based on Relevance for Future Utilization. PLOS One, 7(8), 1-6. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0043426
  9. ^ Wilkinson, A., Parker, T., & Stevenson, H. (1979). "Influence of School and Environment on Selective Memory". Child Development, 890-890. Retrieved November 23, 2014, from JSTOR.

Further reading