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Types of Memory

Psychologists often make distinctions among different types of memory. There are three main distinctions:

  1. Implicit vs. explicit memory
  2. Declarative vs. procedural memory
  3. Semantic vs. episodic memory

Implicit vs. Explicit Memory

Sometimes information that unconsciously enters the memory affects thoughts and behavior, even though the event and the memory of the event remain unknown. Such unconscious retention of information is called implicit memory.

Example: Tina once visited Hotel California with her parents when she was ten years old. She may not remember ever having been there, but when she makes a trip there later, she knows exactly how to get to the swimming pool.

Explicit memory is conscious, intentional remembering of information. Remembering a social security number involves explicit memory.

Declarative vs. Procedural Memory

Declarative memory is recall of factual information such as dates, words, faces, events, and concepts. Remembering the capital of France, the rules for playing football, and what happened in the last game of the World Series involves declarative memory. Declarative memory is usually considered to be explicit because it involves conscious, intentional remembering.

Procedural memory is recall of how to do things such as swimming or driving a car. Procedural memory is usually considered implicit because people don’t have to consciously remember how to perform actions or skills.

Semantic vs. Episodic Memory

Declarative memory is of two types: semantic and episodic. Semantic memory is recall of general facts, while episodic memory is recall of personal facts. Remembering the capital of France and the rules for playing football uses semantic memory. Remembering what happened in the last game of the World Series uses episodic memory.