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Experience versus Memory

Per Dave’s suggestion I watched Daniel Kahneman’s Ted talk about the differences between the remembering and experiencing selves. His point, more or less, is that we value the memory of something over the actual experience of that thing. Two especially interesting points/examples from his talk: First, would you take the vacation you’re planning if all the pictures and memories were going to be miraculously destroyed at the end? (I know I’ve taken a lot of “memory” vacations.) Second, in the question and answer portion at the end of his talk he notes that while there is a definite correlation between happiness and income below $60,000 (the lower you go, the less happy you are), it turns out that making more than that has no effect on experienced happiness (it does on remembered, though).

Interesting stuff.

March 22, 2010


  • Rob J Day says:

    This is a really interesting point and article. However, I think there is a fatal, mistaken assumption in this theory. It assumes that memories are not part of the experience which many could argue they are. It’s like saying people value frosting over the cake. Yes they are technically two separate things, but frosting is inherently one with the cake. Since you cannot have one without the other, I would say its pointless to try and argue which is better.

  • Ana says:

    Daniel Gilbert talks about that same thing in his TED talk “Why Are We Happy?” from a while ago. He’s an awesome speaker, def recommend watching http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy.html

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