The role of emotions in remembering, or how to create memorable content?

Content marketing
Dorota BajczykDorota Bajczyk
Published: 02.12.2019
11 minute

#MemorableContent

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Remember what you were doing around 3 p.m. on September 11, 2001? I came back from school and had lunch. I was talking to my parents about everyday things, nothing important. When the first plane hit the World Trade Center tower, my whole family froze. Even the dog stopped barking. I remember exactly where I was sitting at the time, which room it was in, and even what I felt at the time.

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Remembering so many details after so many years, it has been eighteen years after all, is possible because I was accompanied by very strong emotions at the time. I was no longer quite a young child, although I was not an adult either. However, the momentousness of the event, the enormity of the catastrophe and the tragedy that took place at the time were understandable to me. I felt anxiety, fear, distress. It was these emotions that made me remember that day so accurately.

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Memory and emotion – inseparable sisters

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Psychologists have been studying for years the relationship between memory processes and emotions and their impact on remembering events, facts, experiences and judgments. The scope of ongoing analysis has also expanded to include learning about the impact of emotions on memory distortions.

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Did you know that the findings of psychologists can be successfully used in advertising? As a copywriter and creator of memorable content, I very often turn to this data for proper application. Read also: The SEO tutorial for a copywriter. What as a copywriter you need to know about SEO?

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Today I want to share this knowledge with you. I’m going to show you not only how emotions affect the memorability of the content you’re communicating (I’ve written several times in previous articles to “give emotions” to your readers), but also how you can evoke those emotions, what to allude to, what to appeal to, and at what point to touch that delicate string.

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Remembering

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Remembering is a very complex process, and psychologists and neuroscientists have been trying to get to the bottom of it for many years. Since it is very complex, I will skip the details that we don’t need.

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For the creator of advertising content that is intended to be deeply memorable, it is relevant that our human memory is not perfect. There are seven forms of its imperfections. Knowing them is important to be able to transcend them. Scientists indicate that among the forms of imperfection of memory is its:

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  • impermanence;
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  • dissipation;
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  • blocking;
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  • stubbornness;
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  • erroneous attribution;
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  • suggestiveness;
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  • tendency;
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Instancy, absentmindedness, blocking

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Persistence, absentmindedness, and blocking need little explanation. Memory persistence involves the recurrent recurrence of traumatic memories that have left a strong mark on the survivor. Even small, very indirect associations can recall the original experience and blur or distort current experiences.

Wrong attribution

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Mistaken attribution is when memories are mistakenly attributed to the source. An example of this is recalling dreams as events that actually happened.

Misattribution. . .

Suggestiveness

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Suggestiveness is that memories are distorted by information that comes in from an external source. This information is incorporated into the memories as the person’s own beliefs. An example of suggestiveness may be the presuppositions used in advertisements.

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“And you? After how many cubes will you smile?”

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The outside information is that after a certain number of chocolate cubes, you will definitely smile (initial assumption). The only thing that is unclear is how many of these cubes are needed for that smile.

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Tendency

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Tendency, on the other hand, consists in the fact that older memories, experiences and evaluations are distorted by current knowledge. The memory is, as it were, adapted to what you already know today.

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By dosing your emotions appropriately (more on that in a moment), you can take advantage of these imperfections so that it’s your content that readers remember better.

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Emotions

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Emotions have a huge impact on how we remember facts, events, information, experiences and judgments. They also influence what we do with those memories and how much they change. This is because the amygdala body in the brain, which is responsible specifically for emotions, is connected to the hippocampus, which is responsible for remembering. Stimulation of the amygdala automatically stimulates the hippocampus and triggers memory processes.

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As a result, emotions gain special status in the process of remembering and processing information. They direct attention to those features of the environment that the observer considers important, and divert it from the less important ones. At the same time, the important ones are better remembered. It is also important that those stimuli that are associated with emotions are prioritized for processing over the others.

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Emotions in memorization – how to use them?

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What does this mean for you? If you bring up highly emotional topics in your text, video or podcast, or attach emotional examples to your theories, then your audience will remember much better what you want to tell them. It is also not insignificant that emotions are transferred to the ratings, memory and attitudes of your content audience. If you arouse positive, warm emotions, then your content will gain a similar association, and its evaluation will also be positive.

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Why is this important? Because positive evaluation promotes remembering the features of a product or service that is advertised through content. Even if it’s not a typical radio or TV commercial, but a blog article.

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If you arouse positive emotions → the text will be evaluated positively → it will be better remembered with valuable details.

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Involve, not only cognitively, but also emotionally

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In using emotion to create memorable content, another aspect is important. Cognitive engagement combined with emotional engagement. Imagine that a close friend of yours has written a very valuable text in an industry that interests you. Your interest is cognitive engagement, and your closeness to your friend is emotional engagement. Such a text you will not only read with interest, but also remember it very well, because these two elements reinforce each other.

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Your readers read your texts mainly because cognitive engagement is born in them. If, on top of that, you create a bond with them, give emotional examples and stimulate their amygdala body, you will also arouse emotional engagement in them. Your text will be memorable to them for a very long time. Are you rising or falling in Google? Check with Senuto Monitoring!

The power of emotions – the power of remembering

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It is also important to remember that the best remembered content is that which is given in the “company” of emotions such as emotion, joy, contentment, satisfaction. Content accompanied by strong anxiety and fear and deep sadness is also very well remembered. Slight sadness or disappointment has little effect on memorization. On the other hand, when it comes to integrating acquired knowledge into the system of knowledge already possessed, emotion, joy and contentment work much better here. Fear, anxiety and trepidation allow you to remember the details of a certain situation, but do not allow you to combine them into a whole, much less integrate them into your existing information.

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Cognitive distortions under the influence of emotions and how to use them in content marketing

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This is so much theory. However, its presentation was necessary to move on to more practical issues.

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See, you already know how cognitive and memory processes are connected to emotions. You know that memory is imperfect, and memories and experiences are subject to changes, modifications and misrepresentations. Some of these phenomena you would like to avoid, while others can be used to your advantage.

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When a brand “scores a bump” in its image – it will arouse strong emotions. These emotions will cause the rating of its products to drop as well, even if they are still at a high level. In this situation, one strategy is to use a positive message and positive emotions to erase or rather modify that memory. So you can refer to your mistake, show that the brand admits it, associate it with new emotions (they should be tailored to the target audience, about that in a moment) and wait for the slip-up to become a driving force for a new and better image.

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New emotions can refer to family, love, support, forgiveness (an advertising message in which the brand apologizes to its customers and they forgive them – just imagine that!), add to that a campaign whose message is “we’re sorry we let you down, our new goal is to regain your trust” and the vast majority of outraged customers will shrug at such a designed message. The brand will get a renewed positive reputation and positive customer reviews. Why? Because the memory of the slip-up will be modified by the emotions associated with the brand’s acceptance of responsibility.

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Use emotions to boost memory

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How can you as a blogger, content writer or copywriter use this knowledge? Create texts that appeal to the emotions of your readers. The strongest and most effective are autobiographical emotions. Look at the first sentence of this article. You probably remember 2001 and the moment when the planes hit the towers. It made you engage with the text. You probably even began to recall what you were doing at the time. Activating autobiographical memories, personal experiences increases engagement in information processing.

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Example #1

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You can also start like this:

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“Remember when you used to set up sand cupcakes in the sandbox and pour imaginary icing over them, sprinkle them with nuts and add various pebbles and leaves to make them look even more beautiful? You could almost smell it, as if you had really just taken it out of the oven. I also remember it with emotion, so today I prepared a recipe for a cupcake from our childhood. But rest assured, it won’t come with sand.”

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Example #2

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This was a cooking blog. Next:

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“Remember when you and your friends used to lie on a blanket on the grass? Ants crawled everywhere, flies buzzed persistently, and you made plans for your distant travels. Your dreams had no territorial or material boundaries, none. You know, I used to have that too. At the time I came up with the idea of going to China. Why exactly there? I don’t know, I didn’t even know where China was located. They seemed to me, a small child, so very exotic. And you know what, I just returned yesterday from that childhood dream trip. It was a great idea!”

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After this introduction, you can start describing your trip.

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Example #3

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You can also start like this:

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“Do you ever have that dream where you really, really want to run away from something, and your feet are kind of glued to the floor and so terribly, terribly heavy? The thing you are running away from is getting closer and closer, and you have less and less chance of escaping it. You feel tremendous anxiety and fear, and you wake up in terror, then look around to make sure you’re home after all. That was the dream I had this morning.”

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This is also an emotion, it can be autobiographical, because many people have such a dream (I consulted it 😉 ). Only you have to remember that referring to positive memories evokes positive emotions, and these make it easier not only to remember, but also to implement the information into your knowledge system. This further consolidates them. In contrast, reference to negative memories evokes weaker emotions, which you also want to mute, because who likes unpleasant memories? Therefore, such content, although memorable, is not as long lasting as those appealing to positive feelings.

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Remember also that strong and positive emotions affect the positive evaluation of your text. If it is positive, the reader is also more likely to return to your text and become a regular reader of your blog. Read also: What to blog about? 9 topic sources and 34 article ideas Not sure where to find the perfect key phrases?

Summary:

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  • biologically, the center responsible for emotions is connected to the center responsible for memory, therefore, arousal of emotions affects memory;
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  • reference to autobiographical memories makes it easier to arouse emotions in the reader;
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  • positive memories arouse stronger emotions;
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  • negative memories arouse weaker emotions;
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  • stronger emotions affect better recall;
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  • emotions such as joy, contentment, elation and satisfaction facilitate remembering and integrating new information into the system, thus consolidating it;
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  • emotions such as deep sadness, dismay, anxiety, fear, make it easier to remember individual details;
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  • emotions such as mild sadness, disappointment or discouragement have very little effect on memorization;
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  • draw emotional images in your texts, and they will be remembered for a very long time;
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Dorota Bajczyk

Autorka bloga branżowego Sfera Copywritera i finansowego Kumam Kasę. Z copywritingiem związana jestem od blisko dziesięciu lat, ale dopiero od 3 jest całym moim życiem :).

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