Noelle Nelson, University of Kansas – Working Memory and Satiation

Some of us can get tired of a song quickly, while others listen over and over again.

Noelle Nelson, assistant professor of marketing and consumer behavior, at the University Of Kansas School Of Business, examines whether working memory can help decide whether we get tired of something in a hurry, or not at all.

Noelle Nelson’s broad research portfolio includes studying working memory, sensory processing and information processing in consumer behavior. She has co-authored several peer-reviewed journal articles in the field, and her teaching interests including marketing principles and research, consumer behavior, branding and marketing communications and strategy. Nelson has served as an expert in national media coverage on branding, consumer behavior and marketing issues, such as Black Friday and how large corporate brands deal with consumer attitudes surrounding politics.

Working Memory and Satiation


What you don’t remember can’t bore you.

Our new study looked at working memory and how it influences satiation.

Satiation can be physical — like when you feel full — or psychological — like when you’re tired of something— and we were interested in the psychological side of satiation.

Everyone gets satiated, but we wanted to examine why some people get tired of experiences faster than other people. For example, why does one person get sick of a top pop song after listening a few times, but another person can listen and enjoy the same song for a lot longer?

Our research has implications for how businesses market products and how consumers can understand their own behavior.

In four experiments, we found a person’s working memory or short term memory capacity predicted how fast he or she tired of a piece of art or music.

First, we tested participants’ working memory capacities — such as having them remember a string of letters or how they performed on the Simon memory game.

Then we had them view paintings or listen to classical or pop music.

People with larger capacities tended to remember more about the experience — which led to them satiating more quickly.

This happens because people with larger capacities actually encode information more deeply.

And if they remember more details about what they’ve experienced, they feel like they’ve experienced something more often.

For marketers, this research means they could introduce new products or have other types of distractions to help disrupt people’s memories and break up the satiation process.

Consumers, on the other hand, could use this knowledge to take more control over their habits.

Our study didn’t specifically look at overeating or consumption of unhealthy foods, but because a key component of overeating is psychological, this could be relevant.

So, reminding ourselves how many times we’ve been through the drive-through this week may help us feel like we’re over it.

Read More:
Journal of Consumer Research – Remembering Satiation: The Role of Working Memory in Satiation


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