Collect Fridge Magnets On Holiday? This Is The Surprising Impact You’re Having On Your Memory

There is nothing better towards the end of a holiday than a good mooch around tourist shops. Bottle of water in hand, sunglasses firmly on head and a little ‘oooh’ now and then at the gifts dotted around the shop.

Of course, with this mandatory mooch comes the mandatory magnets to take home for yourself and loved ones. Will you go for a nice, flat magnet with the city name on it or will you go bold and get a tiny 3D rendering of a famous building? Either way, these cheap treats are coming home with you.

However, more than serving as fridge furniture and holding your important letters on the fridge door, these could be actually helping you to remember your holiday, according to research from the University of Liverpool.

How fridge magnets help memories

In hopes of learning more about people’s relationships with holiday magnets, lead researcher John Byrom and his colleagues conducted in-depth interviews, often actually in the participant’s kitchens with 19 people who owned at least 20 fridge magnets from trips away.

The research found that these particular souvenirs help to preserve memories and trigger emotional responses with some participants saying that they think magnets were more important than photographs as memory aids.

“If you go to any place, obviously in a day you could take 50 to 100 photos … Whereas now I don’t tend to take a picture of anything … I’ll just get a fridge magnet at the end,” one participant said.

People discussed with the researchers the importance of the magnets, with one participant admitting that she kept a magnet from Spain not because she had a good time but in fact to remind them of how awful things were at that point in her life.

Byrom said: “It was clear that when people talked through what their magnets meant to them, they were very easily able to generate these memories and responses of very specific events or people, including quite poignant examples of holidays that they’ve had with people who have died or children who have grown up and moved away.”

It makes sense when you think about it. How often do you really return to your holiday photos?

Byrom said: “If you think about how often you go into a fridge, it is very different from those cheese knives that you might buy, and then gather dust in a drawer, or a picture that gradually becomes wallpaper.”

Next time I visit somebody’s home, the first thing I’m asking about is their fridge magnets.