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Encoding

  • By: William von Hippel & Hippel Gonsalkorale
  • In: Encyclopedia of Social Psychology
  • Edited by: Roy F. Baumeister & Kathleen D. Vohs
  • Subject:Social Psychology (general)
Definition

Encoding is the process by which we translate information collected from the outside world by our sensory organs into mental representations. We tend to think of our eyes, ears, and other senses as analogous to video recorders—faithfully translating the outside world into mental products inside our head. However, encoding involves construction of what must be out there in addition to faithful duplication of what is indeed out there. While there are various reasons for this constructive process, the most important reason is that information from the environment can often be interpreted in multiple ways, and the mind must choose the most likely meaning to enable us to respond appropriately. The mind solves this problem by relying on context to adjust the incoming information so ...

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