This study is part of the cognitive approach to psychology the theory that assumes our thought process affects our behaviour It refers to the mental processes with which sensory inputs are dealt within the mind It involves the study of mental structures and mental processes in terms of information processing Memory is the process of retaining previous learning However memory is not always reliable and often is altered due to inherent biases Bartlett 1932 coined the theory of the reconstructive nature of memory which puts forth the idea that memory is influenced by schemas a cognitive framework to understand the world around us better reconstructing the past It refers to a complex phenomenon that occurs when human beings include or disclude data from the original event distorting the original event Bartlett proposed that belief and imagination possess the ability to reconstruct memory In 1932 Fredric Bartlett carried out an experiment wherein the subjects were made to read a Native American folktale The War of the Ghosts and then recall it during various time intervals using a technique known as serial reproduction The results showed that on recalling the story the participants distorted it
The story was modified by the participant s own cultural norms confabulation the story became shorter as time progressed levelling and the events in the story were retold in a different order to make sense of it This alteration of the events in the story provides support for Bartlett's theory and the idea that memory is influenced by schemas However this theory does not explain the reason behind reconstructive memory Another experiment was done by Allport and Postman 1947 to investigate the effect of schemas on recall The first part of the study involved white participants to recall and describe an image The image shown portrayed an argument between a well dressed respectable black man and a white man who was neither well dressed nor respectable The participants reversed their appearances making the black man the aggressor and furthermore some believed the black man to be holding a knife This study highlights the effect of cultural stereotypes embedded in society on memory recall The study replicated was Reconstruction of Automobile Memory conducted by Loftus and Palmer 1974 The study aimed to test the effect of language used during eyewitness testimony on memory in specific traffic accidents It was conducted because most court cases use eye witness testimony as evidence but its reliability is questionable There were forty five students that participated in this lab experiment
The sample was exposed to seven films depicting a traffic accident After watching each of the series of films participants received a questionnaire where the participants were asked the critical question How fast were the two cars going when they _______ into one another The blank space was replaced by 5 verbs in 5 different conditions The Independent variable was the verb as it was changed and the dependant variable was the mean speed estimate km hr The results were recorded in a table The mean speed estimate for the verb smashed was 40 5mph whereas the mean speed for the verb contacted was 31 8mph The mean speed in reality was 37mph The results demonstrate that participant s estimate of the speed was affected by the verb used this effect is applicable to eyewitness testimony based on the language used during interrogation This could affect the telling of the crime and lead to bias in the testimony The results obtained may be due to response bias factors in which case the misleading information explained the results and there was no creation of the false memory The second possible reason could be due to an altered memory representation One week after the experiment subjects were asked whether they observed broken glass Those that answered smashed were reported to answer yes implying they saw broken glass when in reality this was not the case Experiment two proves suggests that memory was altered confabulation occurring This suggests direct support for Bartlett s theory providing evidence that our existing schema associated with a more intense verb smashed leads to a higher perception of the speed whereas in reality this may be untrue A drawback of the study is that it lacks ecological validity being a lab experiment
It is unclear whether if the accident was witnessed first hand the memory would be impacted and would have the same emotional effect This ability of memory can alter behaviours and witness testimony during court trials In the United States information has been gathered on 300 innocent individuals who were convicted of crimes out of which two thirds were due to false memories This punishment of innocent people in regards to a serious topic such as crime makes it a necessary area of study and is the inspiration behind this research paper The aim of my study was to investigate if there was a correlation between the type of verb used and the estimated speed of the car In this experiment the dependant variable the wording of the verb was modified only twice 2 conditions In order to maximise the difference between the mean speeds the least intense verb contacted and the most intense smashed were used one tailed two tailed H There was no significant difference in the mean speed estimate regardless of the verb used Hı The more intense verb smashed would result in the highest mean speed estimate whereas the verb with lower intensity contacted would result in a significantly lower speed
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