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Close your eyes to remember detail

By JAMES COAKES Published 21st Jan 2015
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When you have forgotten something that you are sure you know it’s quite common to close your eyes to try to remember and now researchers have completed a study which looked at this technique.

A total of 178 men and women were shown short films and then they were asked questions on what they had seen. Half were asked to complete the test with their eyes open and the other half with their eyes shut. The scores averaged 48% for the open eyes group and 71% for those who closed their eyes.

The test covered things that were seen and heard, the results showing the same thing in both cases. Interestingly the scores increased again when the interviewer and interviewee built up a rapport.

Some of those who had not built rapport first said that they felt uncomfortable closing their eyes. This suggests that it’s not so much that scores increase with rapport but that they decrease without it - discomfort acts as a distraction.

Dr Robert Nash from the University of Surrey, who ran the study, believes that focus is behind the statistics. By blocking out distractions participants were able to home in on what they had been watching and remember detail more clearly.

The study was published in the journal, Legal and Criminological Psychology. They concluded that the findings might benefit various people including police, interviewing witnesses, and people trying to remember the detail of a forgotten shopping list.

This study is useful in the context of training for a couple of reasons. First of all it’s interesting to see a study which confirms something that many of us intuitively know; that closing your eyes when trying to remember something does actually help. The second useful point is that lack of rapport between a trainer and those being trained is very important and increases the effectiveness of the training.

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