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The photo impairment effect is the finding that memory for photographed information is worse than for viewed information. Recent research has extended this finding to stimuli that are screenshot on a phone or computer (Lurie et al., submitted). One potential explanation for the impairment is cognitive offloading, which is a reliance on an external memory store for information (Henkel, 2014; Lurie & Westerman, 2021; Lurie et al., submitted). Four experiments were conducted to examine the feasibility of the offloading account by investigating potential benefits of taking screenshots as compared with viewing pieces of art, as suggested by previous research. The results suggest that the act of screenshotting produces memory costs (average d = 1.35) without the expected benefits for source memory, subsequently learned information, or performance on a cognitive task compared with viewing. These collective findings do not support a cognitive offloading explanation.



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Digital Amnesia: The Aftermath of a Screenshot