What is the concept and purpose of Selective Retention and how does it affect individuals and their decision-making processes?

Selective retention is a psychological concept that refers to the tendency of individuals to remember and retain information that aligns with their existing beliefs, attitudes, and values. It is a filtering process that occurs in the human brain, where information that is deemed important or relevant is stored, while irrelevant or contradictory information is disregarded. The purpose of selective retention is to help individuals make sense of the overwhelming amount of information they encounter daily. However, this cognitive bias can also have a significant impact on an individual’s decision-making process, as it can lead to the reinforcement of existing beliefs and the dismissal of opposing viewpoints. In this article, we will delve deeper into the concept and purpose of selective retention and discuss its effects on individuals and their decision-making processes.

Selective retention, in relating to the mind, is the process when people more accurately remember messages that are closer to their interests, values and beliefs, than those that are in contrast with their values and beliefs, selecting what to keep in the memory, narrowing the informational flow.

Such examples could include:

  • A person may gradually reflect more positively on their time at school as they grow older
  • A consumer might remember only the positive health benefits of a product they enjoy
  • People tending to omit problems and disputes in past relationships
  • A conspiracy theorist paying less attention to facts which do not aid their standpoint
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