Encyclopedia of the Sciences of Learning

2012 Edition
| Editors: Norbert M. Seel

A Stability Bias in Human Memory

  • Nate KornellEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1428-6_1683

Definition

Human memory is anything but stable: We constantly add knowledge to our memories as we learn and lose access to knowledge as we forget. Yet people often make judgments and predictions about their memories that do not reflect this instability. The term stability bias refers to the human tendency to act as though one’s memory will remain stable in the future. For example, people fail to predict that they will learn from future study opportunities; they also fail to predict that they will forget in the future with the passage of time. The stability bias appears to be rooted in a failure to appreciate external influences on memory, coupled with a lack of sensitivity to how the conditions present during learning will differ from the conditions present during a test.

Theoretical Background

All memories are not created equal. Some memories feel strong, vivid, and familiar; others feel shakier and less reliable. People are generally confident in the first type of memory but unsure...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Benjamin, A. S., Bjork, R. A., & Schwartz, B. L. (1998). The mismeasure of memory: When retrieval fluency is misleading as a metamnemonic index. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 127, 55–68.Google Scholar
  2. Dunlosky, J., & Bjork, R. A. (Eds.). (2008). A handbook of metamemory and memory. Hillsdale: Psychology Press.Google Scholar
  3. Kelly, C. M., & Jacoby, L. L. (1996). Adult egocentrism: Subjective experience versus analytic bases for judgment. Journal of Memory and Language, 35, 157–175.Google Scholar
  4. Koriat, A. (1997). Monitoring one’s own knowledge during study: A cue-utilization approach to judgments of learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 126, 349–370.Google Scholar
  5. Koriat, A., Bjork, R. A., Sheffer, L., & Bar, S. K. (2004). Predicting one’s own forgetting: The role of experience-based and theory-based processes. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 133, 643–656.Google Scholar
  6. Kornell, N., & Bjork, R. A. (2009). A stability bias in human memory: Overestimating remembering and underestimating learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 138, 449–468.Google Scholar
  7. Kornell, N. (2010). Failing to predict future changes in memory: A stability bias yields long-term overconfidence. In A. S. Benjamin (Ed.), Successful Remembering and Successful Forgetting: A Festschrift in Honor of Robert A. Bjork (pp. 365–386). New York, NY: Psychology Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWilliams CollegeWilliamstownUSA