I was unable to frame a search query for my question, hence decided to post it out here.

I am normally able to type passwords, numbers and other tiny bits of text very fast. However if I have to spell/say this to some other person, let's say a Customer Service Rep, my mind doubts whether the information is correct or incorrect.

I hope you can follow my question, could anyone explain any scientific term that defines this condition of mind, where recalling a text via motor skills (hands) is faster than recalling and speaking it out?


1 Answer 1


I'm not sure I know a name for the phenomenon, but the general idea is that for patterns of info you retrieve consistently in certain ways (e.g., typing into a standard phone key pad), you have formed consist mappings between your cognitions and your motor responses. The original work on this was done by Richard Shiffrin and Walt Schneider (1976, 1977?). Their works is real low-level, but what you have done is automatized a certain retrieval-execution circuit that "fires off" less-optimally when someone asks for that info in a different circumstance (e.g., on the phone with someone you have never talked to before like a tech rep), and you have to generate it without other tactile and visual cues (like a keyboard).

Hope that helps. If you google scholar "skill automization" there will be a rabbit-hole of information 40 years deep. I think there is a chapter by Reason in 1990? that has come cool, easy to digest implications of automization for errors in behavior and thought (e.g. "Freudian slips").


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