Understanding Implicit Memory: How It Shapes Our Behavior

Understanding Implicit Memory: How It Shapes Our Behavior


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  • Source: Microbioz India

  • Date: 28 Dec,2023

Implicit memory is a term used to describe the keeping and finding of information without conscious awareness. Often our actions will be influenced by this without our knowing it. This is because implicit memory takes several forms and influences what we do most of the time. Implicit Memory What Is It? How Does It Affect Behavior?

Here are some ways in which implicit memory can be described:

Forms of Implicit Memory:

Procedural Memory:

  1. Learning and remembering skills and habits
  2. For example, bike riding, keyboarding or playing musical instruments.
  3. With enough practice, these activities become automatic such that one may not even notice doing them.


  1. One stimulus affects another after subsequent exposure to it.
  2. For instance, if you see a word associated with a particular concept, you may respond faster to related words in later tasks.

Classical Conditioning:

  1. Pairing two stimuli leading to a learned response.
  2. This was demonstrated in Pavlov’s classic dog experiment when his dogs would salivate at the sound of bells.


  1. Less response to irrelevant repetitive stimulus
  2. The response lessens as long as the same stimulus is encountered over and over again.

Perceptual Learning:

  1. Improved ability to recognize stimuli from previous experience
  2. In some everyday tasks like recognizing faces or identifying patterns

How implicit memory shapes behaviour?


  1. Tasks or behaviours that are learned through implicit memory become automatic and require little conscious effort.
  2. Thus individuals can go about such tasks without having to consciously think about all the steps they do while performing them.

Influence on Decision-Making:

  1. Implicit memory could also influence decision-making processes
  2. These preferences/biases may have been subconsciously learned hence choices can be made unconsciously influenced by these factors.

Emotional Responses:

  1. Implicit memory also plays part in shaping emotional responses.
  2. On similar situations; people’s emotions would have been different if not for earlier experiences.

Social Interactions:

  1. Implicit memory shapes our reactions to familiar social cues, thus influencing social interactions.
  2. Additionally, it is important in creating and maintaining social norms.

Skill Development:

  1. One of the types of implicit memory is procedural memory which plays a crucial role in skill development.
  2. When given extensive practice learned skills may be performed automatically.

Cultural Influences:

  1. Implicit memory helps in transmitting cultural norms and practices.
  2. Behaviours and customs are unconsciously learned and passed down generations

Trauma and Conditioning:

  1. What someone learns as a result of traumatic experiences can affect how they respond to similar stimuli
  2. Conditioning through implicit memory may cause phobias or anxiety

Learning and Adaptation:

  1. This can be seen as a biological instrument that links individuals to their environment by making them react properly in familiar situations
  2. This allows people to respond more effectively when dealing with related situations

Something that happened a long time ago, which we do not recall consciously, may be responsible for our current behavior. Explicit memory, in contrast, is a form of conscious remembering while implicit memory acts unconsciously beneath the surface guiding our behavior without our knowledge. Though not inclusive, these examples give an idea of what psychological researchers are studying about implicit memory and how it affects people’s everyday lives.

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