If I ask you to describe what a “head” is, you might talk about the brain, hair, eyes, nose, ears, skin, neck, etc. A head is made up of many things, but you’ve gathered all that information together and called it “head”. Similarly I could talk about the concept “eye”. And you would think about all the things that make up an eye: the eyeball, iris, eyelash, eyelid, etc. Psychologists call these groupings a “schema” (the plural is schemata). You use schemata to store information in ,and retrieve information out of, your long term memory.
A schema builds associations — If you can connect new information you encounter to information that is already stored, then it will be easier for it to stick, or stay in long-term memory, and easier to get it out of your memory. A schema allows you to build up these associations in long term memory. Just one schema helps you organize a lot of information. Continue reading “100 Things You Should Know About People: #78 — People Use A Schema To Encode And Remember”