I already mentioned here the importance of observation to understand what is the real life of people. It is related to the fact that out of context, no one is ever conscious of his actions, and that the awareness of the daily life is precisely activated by the context.
Do not listen to what I say: my memories are wrong!
New discoveries in neuroscience have confirmed this. First we learn that our memories are not perfect recordings of our experiences, but now we discover that we change them each and every time we recall them to the consciousness.
Memory is not reliable.
The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus had done a famous experiment a long time ago on what she called the false memory syndrome. She had submitted to two dozen people a paper detailing four events that had occurred in their infancy. Three facts were real. The fourth one was purely fictitious. It described how, at the age of five, the children had been lost in a shopping center and saved by a stranger. When she interviewed the subjects, a quarter of them remembered having been lost, and remembered even with a remarkable attention to detail. "I was crying and I remember that day… I thought I’d never see my family again." "An older man approached me... He had a flannel shirt on… I remember my mom told me never to do that again". Except that there had never been a man in flannel shirt or a warning from the mother.
The discovery of the unreliability of memories has changed the turn of number of trials in the United States.
The memory reconfigures and changes continuously with time.
The biochemical and electrical process that secures the long-term memory takes several hours. This is called consolidation. Neuroscientist Karim Nader has shown that in fact, this process is repeated multiple times. The memory reconsolidates itself permanently. The maintenance of the synapses networks is as important as their creation. And when the memory is recalled to mind, it can be modified by the person who remembers it. The fact of remembering makes the memory vulnerable. The memory is a volatile material which alters itself.
The emotion associated with the memory can be changed.
Neuroscientist Daniela Schiller studied the biology of emotional memories in the brain. Her work indicates that, much like a word processor, we can rewrite our traumatic memories. We can re-register them in the memory by altering their emotional character. If we do not erase the traumatic memories, we can certainly inhibit them, but we still have to live with them. Now we know that we can change them into memories which emotional charge will be different, neutral or positive. You do not lose the memory of the traumatic experience; you lose the trauma memory.
So to understand the truth of usages, it is better to ask users what they remember having done, or to observe them doing? Marketing professionals, do not trust the memories of representative groups, but ask anthropologists to observe your users and customers in their kitchen, in the car or on holidays.
To support this theory in a practical way, I'm interested in your experiences in this area! I wish I can read you soon!