Ways to Enhance Memory

Critical Thinking Questions

What is the self-reference effect, and how can it help you study more effectively?


The self-reference effect is the tendency an individual to have better memory for information that relates to oneself than information that is not personally relevant. You can use the self-reference effect to relate the material to something you have already learned for another class, or think how you can apply the concepts to your life. When you do this, you are building a web of retrieval cues that will help you access the material when you want to remember it.

You and your roommate spent all of last night studying for your psychology test. You think you know the material; however, you suggest that you study again the next morning an hour prior to the test. Your roommate asks you to explain why you think this is a good idea. What do you tell her?


You remind her about Ebbinghaus’s forgetting curve: the information you learn drops off rapidly with time. Even if you think you know the material, you should study it again right before test time to increase the likelihood the information will remain in your memory. Overlearning can help prevent storage decay.