How Readwise Became An Indispensable Part Of My Knowledge Management Workflow: Incorporating the Mere Exposure Effect in Psychology


Hatched by Glasp

Sep 09, 2023

6 min read


How Readwise Became An Indispensable Part Of My Knowledge Management Workflow: Incorporating the Mere Exposure Effect in Psychology

In today's digital age, the sheer volume of information available to us can be overwhelming. We consume articles, books, and various forms of media on a daily basis, but how much of that information actually sticks with us? It's nice to have a system to look back and organize the notes and memos we take while reading, as that's when we truly internalize and learn something. What people really want is one central place where all of their notes and memos are aggregated, rather than having a collection of articles or divided note-taking places. Having one place to organize our thoughts and automating the process of collecting notes just makes sense.

For me, Readwise has become an indispensable tool in my knowledge management workflow. It has allowed me to seamlessly integrate my note-taking process into my writing inbox, making it easier for me to focus on turning those notes into actionable knowledge. Here's how I use Readwise to automatically get my notes into my writing inbox:

When I come across an interesting article, I save it to my preferred app, Matter, and then read it on my phone or iPad using the Matter app. As I'm reading, I highlight passages that stand out to me. These highlights are like sparks that ignite my curiosity and make me want to delve deeper into the topic. But now, with my newfound habit of note-taking, I take it a step further. I write a brief note to my future self, explaining why this particular passage sparked my interest. It could be a simple reminder of why I found it interesting or a connection I made to something else I've read before.

With Readwise, both the highlighted text and the note I wrote are synced into my writing inbox. This means that when I revisit the article a few days later, I have the context of the highlighted text and my own thoughts in the note. It's like having my own personal knowledge repository right at my fingertips.

By connecting both my Kindle and Matter to Readwise, all of my notes and highlights are automatically transferred into Roam Research, where they await me in my Writing Inbox. Now that my notes are automatically organized in Roam, I look forward to diving into my Writing Inbox every day and discovering new notes to expand upon and turn into real-life knowledge.

Automation tools like Readwise can't do the work of building knowledge for us, but they can certainly enhance our workflow and free up valuable time. If we treat Readwise as a conduit between what we're reading and our writing inbox, it can save us a significant amount of time and even speed up our note-taking process. However, it's important to note that automation or efficiency alone is not enough to truly acquire deep knowledge. Real learning requires critical thinking and engagement with the material.

Interestingly, the concept of the mere exposure effect in psychology aligns with the use of Readwise in our knowledge management workflow. The mere exposure effect refers to the finding that the more often we have previously been exposed to something, the more we tend to like it. This effect occurs even if we do not consciously remember that we have seen the object before.

In 1968, social psychologist Robert Zajonc published a groundbreaking paper on the mere exposure effect. According to Zajonc, people didn't need to experience a reward or positive outcome while being exposed to an object. Simply being exposed to the object repeatedly would be enough to make people like it. This finding raises interesting questions about human desire and the influence of social processes, such as mimetic desire.

The mere exposure effect helps explain why seeing the same advertisement multiple times can be more convincing than seeing it just once. It also highlights the fact that the effect doesn't occur for things we initially dislike. This phenomenon has been observed in studies with human participants as well as in studies with non-human animals. Even animals show a preference for things they have been repeatedly exposed to.

Furthermore, research has shown that being subliminally shown a set of images can affect our preferences and moods. The mere exposure effect occurs when participants are repeatedly exposed to images, but not when they are repeatedly exposed to sounds. This suggests that our visual perception plays a significant role in the mere exposure effect.

Interestingly, the mere exposure effect is not a linear phenomenon. Participants eventually start to like objects less after many repeated exposures. In other words, a smaller number of repeated exposures will make us like something more. However, if the exposures continue, we could eventually become tired of it. This phenomenon is something many of us may have experienced with TV commercials or even certain songs.

The mere exposure effect can be linked to two important psychological processes: uncertainty reduction and perceptual fluency. Uncertainty reduction refers to our natural inclination to be cautious around new things. We are primed to be wary of the unfamiliar, as it could potentially be dangerous to us. However, when we repeatedly see the same thing and nothing bad happens, we start to realize that there's nothing to be afraid of.

Perceptual fluency, on the other hand, refers to our ability to understand and interpret things that are familiar to us. When we've seen something before, it's easier for us to process the information and make sense of it. This is why we tend to prefer things that are already familiar to us.

So, how can we apply these insights to our own knowledge management workflow and enhance our learning process? Here are three actionable pieces of advice:

  • 1. Cultivate a habit of note-taking: Instead of passively consuming information, actively engage with it by taking notes. Write down your thoughts, connections, and reflections to truly internalize and understand the material.
  • 2. Utilize automation tools: Tools like Readwise can streamline your note-taking process and save you time. Use them as a conduit between what you're reading and your writing inbox, allowing you to focus on turning your notes into actionable knowledge.
  • 3. Embrace the power of repetition: The mere exposure effect suggests that repeated exposure to information can enhance our liking and understanding of it. Review your notes regularly and revisit the material to reinforce your learning and deepen your knowledge.

In conclusion, Readwise has become an essential part of my knowledge management workflow by seamlessly integrating my note-taking process with my writing inbox. By leveraging the power of automation and the insights from the mere exposure effect, I have been able to enhance my learning and turn my notes into actionable knowledge. Remember, the key to effective learning lies not just in the tools we use, but in our active engagement with the material and our willingness to revisit and reinforce our understanding.

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