• Implicit memory is easily recalled without much effort, helping us with tasks like walking, talking, and driving a car on a regular basis, all without much effort.
  • An Implicit Association Test was created to test our associations with particular individuals; it urges subjects to make quick judgments and often indicates implicit discrimination in people who do not otherwise harbor these feelings.
  • Explicit memory, on the other hand, requires a conscious effort; there are two types, episodic and semantic.
  • Episodic memory is the recollection of life events, while semantic memory is non-biographical memory and includes things like the conscious memory of formulas.
  • Both types of memory are helpful, but they can also be used against us such as in today’s marketing efforts.

Implicit Memory: Nondeclarative Memory

Implicit memory is recalled unconsciously. The most common form of implicit memory is procedural memory, which explains why we can engage in certain activities without even really thinking about it. So, for example:

Researchers have created different tests that bring out implicit memories in their study subjects. In one study, participants were given a series of words to study. Later, when they were given fragments of these words, they were more likely to complete or recall the words from the series—even though they did not consciously remember them. 

An Implicit Association Test has also been created based on our implicit memory, which tests individuals’ associations with particular groups of people. It has so far been administered to measure racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination, as it urges the subjects to make quick, inherent judgments in a small timeframe. The results often indicate implicit discrimination in individuals who do not otherwise signify these thoughts or feelings.

Explicit Memory: Declarative Memory

Explicit memory is implicit memory’s distant relative—also known as declarative memory. This is the conscious effort to recall memories of the past. There are two types of explicit memory: episodic and semantic. Episodic memory is the recollection of life events, which includes autobiographical memory such as name, date of birth, and relationships. Semantic memory, on the other hand, is non-biographical memory and includes things like the conscious memory of formulas or problem-solving techniques. So, while you may implicitly remember the way to school every day, you have to put in a little more effort to remember your dad’s birthday or what you learned in history class last week. Here are a few other examples of explicit memory at work:

  • Remembering details of your Spring Break trip.
  • Recalling details of the American Civil War that you learned in class. 
  • Remembering when your next dentist appointment is.
  • Knowing the Pythagorean theorem.

Memory Manipulation Today

Online ads are today’s primary advertisement strategy. You scroll through Facebook and come across an ad for the shirt you were just looking at on another website. Or you click on a link that redirects you to another page, which bombards you with a full sidebar, multiple videos, and pop-up ads galore. 

It turns out these ads are so successful in part due to our explicit and implicit memory. When we view web ads, we store information in both of these mental compartments: we explicitly remember ad slogans and jingles after being exposed to them so many times. And we implicitly remember something we saw in an ad when triggered by external stimuli. For example, you’re at the grocery store and need new shampoo. You grab Garnier Fructis and head to the checkout line. You may think you’ve never heard of Garnier Fructis, but the real reason you reached for that brand is you saw it advertised on Instagram so many times.