Study shows: We remember fraudsters better

Fraudsters are better remembered
In a study, German researchers found that people can better remember fraudsters or other people who show "misconduct outside the norm". We then remember not only the face more easily, but also the story connected with it.

"I'll remember that!"
When other people gain an undeserved advantage by their own standards, possibly at their own expense, one often thinks: “I will remember that!” And indeed, our memory stores such people particularly well - at least when they are our own Group belong, as psychologists at Friedrich Schiller University Jena have now found out.

We better remember uncooperative individuals
“People remember uncooperative individuals better than cooperative ones. We suspect that this is particularly the case when uncooperative individuals belong to their own group because their behavior violates positive expectations, ”the researchers write in the journal“ Cognition ”.

Dr. Stefanie Hechler, who together with her colleagues Prof. Dr. Thomas Kessler and Prof. Franz Neyer worked on the new studies, from which the results emerged, explained in a press release: “If we observe people who show misconduct outside the norm - such as fraud - we remember them particularly well because they acted differently than we expect. "

“These are combined memories, as colleagues from Düsseldorf found out. That means that we not only remember the face of the person concerned, but also the story connected with it, ”says the expert. After all, it was better not only to determine at the next meeting that you had already seen the person before, but also that he had acted uncooperatively at the time.

Interact with people in your own group
"However, this social functionality only occurs if I place the person in question in the same group as myself, i.e. a group of people to whom I assign a certain category - such as the employees of a company, the seminar group of a university or, more broadly, about the inhabitants of a country, ”said Hechler.

“As a rule, we divide our social environment into such groups in order to be able to structure them better. So we mostly interact with people in our own group. ”

Identification with the group
In an experiment, the Jena psychologists informed the test subjects that they were part of an invented and new group, without referring to the fact that it had a certain meaning. However, the participants still identified with their group, which was at the same time a differentiation from another group.

After the scientists showed them different people with background information, it turned out that they had particularly focused on their co-members. Those from their own group who had noticed misconduct had therefore made a special impression on the test subjects.

However, this did not apply to the people from the foreign group who had also distinguished themselves through uncooperative actions.

Action against the norm is stored particularly well
"So it turns out that even such basic processes as memory processes, which we control rather unconsciously, are influenced by social categorizations," says Hechler. "We particularly save acting against the norm as a danger for the group - and thus also for those who are responsible for it."

However, it also turned out that the participants generally rated their own group as more positive than a foreign group, although they could remember the fraudsters very well. (ad)

Author and source information

Video: Former FBI Agent Explains How to Read Body Language. Tradecraft. WIRED (September 2021).