Personal Finance | First Published April 26, 2021

Choiceology: Season 7 Episode 4

use_simplecast_player
Read Transcript Open new window

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Google PodcastsSpotify or copy to your RSS reader.

Forgetting can be a significant barrier to achievement with real consequences. How can reminders help improve our memory?


You probably have a list of reminders somewhere. Maybe you have a calendar with important dates marked. And likely a mental to-do list. And shopping lists. And gift ideas. And you’ve got to remember to get your taxes filed. And don’t forget to get those prescriptions filled before the drug store closes. And you’ve got to renew your insurance, and …

There’s a lot of information to juggle in modern life. In this episode of Choiceology with Katy Milkman, we look at ways to improve reminders and reduce forgetting around things like voting, vaccinations, and international espionage.

Sarah-Louise Miller is a doctoral candidate in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Sarah-Louise tells the story of Elizabeth Reynolds (a.k.a. Elizabeth “Minnie” Devereux-Rochester), a young courier operating behind enemy lines in France during the Second World War. Elizabeth’s ability to absorb and memorize information contributed greatly to the Allied war effort and may very well have saved her life.

You’ll also hear from former Australian Secret Intelligence Service agent Warren Reed. He details the intensive memory training he encountered at MI6 and explains how memorization is key to an agent’s success and survival.

Warren Reed is the author of several books on espionage. His latest is An Elephant On Your Nose.

Next, Todd Rogers joins Katy to talk about research that addresses memory, forgetting, and reminders. Forgetting and “flaking out” on virtuous goals such as eating healthy, going to the gym, or voting is a major problem with negative consequences for individuals and communities. But with some subtle shifts in choice architecture, forgetting can be significantly reduced.

Todd Rogers is a behavioral scientist and professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. His research paper with Kay Milkman is titled Reminders Through Association.

Finally, Angela Duckworth explains how planning prompts or implementation intentions can be used by everyone, including school-aged children, to improve follow-through on goals.

Angela Duckworth is professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Choiceology is an original podcast from Charles Schwab.

If you enjoy the show, please leave a rating or review on Apple Podcasts.