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This is more of a subtlety and goes beyond general English Language & Usage and is more about the cognitive process surrounding the use of language.

It seems like I heard once that, while it is common to say, using a phrase like "Don't forget" or "don't miss" is essentially a cognitive double negative. Consciously we understand that "Don't forget" means to "remember" but unconsciously our minds drop the "don't" and file it as "forget," thus conveying the opposite message.

The argument goes that if I tell you "don't think of a pink elephant" then you need to first think of the pink elephant before you can cognitively not think of it. Later if you recall back to the conversation you would remember it was about pink elephants and not thinking of them.

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    $\begingroup$ Sometimes people say "Remember not to forget.." $\endgroup$ – Jake Jul 14 '14 at 4:01
  • $\begingroup$ @Jake I think that is worse! Maybe it is just a matter of less words are better. $\endgroup$ – Jim McKeeth Jul 14 '14 at 17:46
  • $\begingroup$ Don't forget to vote! $\endgroup$ – Ooker Mar 6 '19 at 2:33
  • $\begingroup$ How about the difference or similarity between I will always remember (my first lover) and I will never forget (my first lover) Don't you remember what happened (last time we did that?) Did you forget what happened (last time we did that?) $\endgroup$ – Jacqueline Buchanan Oct 22 '19 at 5:18
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I'd argue that Churchill's "Never, never, NEVER give up" didn't reputedly have this effect.

With 'Don't forget' the 'don't' may well outweigh the infinitive verb in its cognitive effect, especially if stressed. The language here is of stimulation, incentivising, or command, and I'd say the more likely undesired reaction is the dislike of the perceived patronising (or, certainly, the imperious) approach.

With 'Don't think of a pink elephant' there is little likelihood that one feels patronised or browbeaten.

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I think "remember" might be a better choice than "don't forget" because the former would be taken more as a suggestion while the latter sounds limiting (as if it were a prohibition of sorts). Humans probably in average respond better to positively formed suggestions.

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This really depends on the circumstances.

"Remember(!)" may sound like a command and a lot of people, especially adults, may feel being patronized by it. It can work well when teachers or parents talk to children, for example.

"Don't forget" may also sound quite patronizing, but in a conversation with a person you have a friendly relationship, it can sound like a recommendation. You could also say "Let me remind you..."

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It is better to say remember. It is actually impossible to comply with "don't forget" because in the time between the request and the eventual time you do the thing you were not supposed to forget, you will have forgotten about it many times. You cannot retain that one item in the conscious part of your brain for all that time. As soon as you forget the first time, you will already have failed the task of not forgetting. What matters is that you eventually remember. It doesn't matter if you forget and remember fifty times, you still complied with the request to remember. But you have failed to comply with the do-not-forget request (about fifty times).

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