Are You Still Shoving Down on Paper to Memorize?

By Runa Akagawa

Self-Reference Effect 

Memorization. How long do I have to suffer with it? I relied on blue ink pens, but I couldn’t memorize. I repeated writing down over and over again, but I couldn’t!

Are you experiencing like that? Ok, let me introduce a useful tip “Self-Reference Effect” to memorize effectively.

Your Brain Prefer Information about You!

According to American psychologists Kuiper, N. A. and Rogeres, T. B., you memorize things related to yourself better than things not related. Why don’t you utilize this?

Make Example Sentence about You

Let’s say you want to memorize a description “Reaction formation is a type of defense mechanism in which a person acts in the exact opposite manner to his own disturbing or socially unacceptable thoughts or emotions (Pedersen, 2018).” What you should do now is thinking when you exemplified reaction formation in your life. Have you ever had anyone in your mind? If you do, have you ever teased the person, especially when you were a child. That is reaction formation.

The Mechanism of Storing in Self-Reference Effect

The article The Self-Reference Effect in Memory: A Meta-Analysisby Cynthia S. Symons and Blair T. Johnson appeared why self-reference effect makes something be easily memorized. Symons and Johnson mention that the reason of that is the object “self” is a concept used by each person on a daily basis, thus it is easily refined and structuralized. 

  • Structuralize your experience
    • When you try to remember something, the stereotype is important as a clue to reach an answer. If you have already known about a thing, you can match it with what you are trying to memorize now. Thus, you will be able to remember that easily.
  • Refine your experience
    • Memorize new things by adding some information to knowledge which you already have. For example, if you cannot find an episode related to the thing what you want to memorize, you imagine what would you do if you were in the situation. You have never done in reality, but your brain recognizes as if you have done.


When you want to memorize something, ask yourself

  1. Whether you have ever experienced same situation. If not,
  2. Imagine as if you have done it.


Horiuchi, T. (1998). The multidimensional property of the self and self-reference effect. The Japanese Journal of Psychology. Vol. 68. Retrieved from

Meade, M. B. (October 14th, 2014). The Self-Reference Effect in my Everyday Life.Psych 256: Cognitive Psychology FA14. Retrieved from

Motohashi, Y. (2014). Brain Loves themselves. Study Hacker.Retrieved from

Pedersen, T. (2018). Reaction Formation. Psych Central.Retrieved from

Symons, S. Cynthia & Johnson, T. Blair. (1997). The Self-Reference Effect in Memory: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, Vol. 121. Retrieved from

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