A study published online in the Journal of Consumer Psychology recommends bringing a shopping list when heading to a store. The researchers say that this lowers the chances of returning home only to find that the one forgot to buy something.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but only half of the shoppers actually bring lists with them. They say that this is the key to a better shopping trip.

The researchers studied more than 700 shoppers in different situations. One scenario involved giving people a list that contains 10 to 20 fruit and vegetable items.

Fifty percent got lists that contain everyday food items like broccoli, bananas, and apples while the other 50 percent’s lists included uncommon food items such as coconuts, figs, and beetroots.

One should bring a shopping list when heading to a store. Photo from Pixabay/StockSnap

One should bring a shopping list when heading to a store. Photo from Pixabay/StockSnap

The participants that received the list of uncommon items forgot these but they recalled the items better when they walked through the aisles without relying on their memory. According to Daniel Fernandes, an assistant professor of marketing at the Catholic University of Portugal, simply encountering the unusual product triggers the memory.

On the other hand, the shoppers recalled the familiar items more easily without going through the aisles like what the previous participants did. However, when the participants spent 10 minutes reading a story before grocery shopping, even some of those who got the list of familiar food items forgot the exact foods they needed to buy.

“One of our key findings is that people don’t correctly anticipate when they are more likely to forget items,” Fernandes explains. “When we have something in our mind, it is hard to imagine that we will forget it.”

Hence, the researchers recommend bringing a shopping list to solve this memory problem. Moreover, the team believes that these findings can help employees perform better at work.

“We often rely on our memories to perform familiar tasks at work, and those tasks will come easily to mind, but unfamiliar tasks are hard to recall,” Fernandes asserts. “To maximise our effectiveness on the job, it’s important to pay special attention to those less familiar tasks and put them on the agenda.”