Loftus and Palmer (1974) - Classic Evidence (Cognitive)

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  • Created on: 16-04-19 20:28
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  • Loftus and Palmer (1974) - Example of the interaction between language and memory
    • Concerned with the inaccuracy of eyewitness testimony.
      • Questions by police/official after a crime may alter witnesses’ perception of the events and affect what they recall.
    • Methodology
      • Two experiments conducted in a laboratory using an independent group design.
        • Experiment 1:  45 student participants. Experiment 2:  150 student participants.
    • Procedures and findings
      • Experiment 1
        • Procedures
          • Five groups, 9 participants in each.
          • 7 clips of traffic accidents, lasting 5-30 seconds.
          • After each clip, they recieved a questionnaire,asked specific questions about the accident.
          • One 'critical' question - "How fast were the cars going when they ____ each other?"
            • Each group  had a different key word - hit, smashed, collided, bumped, contacted.
        • Findings
          • The group given the word ‘smashed’ estimated a higher speed.
          • The group given the word ‘contacted’ estimated the lowest speed
      • Experiment 2
        • Procedures
          • Three groups, 50 participants in each.
          • Investigated whether leading questions bias a person’s response or  alter the memory that is stored.
          • Part 1: Shown a film of multiple car crash. Asked a set of questions, including the critical question about speed.
            • Group 1 -  ‘How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?’  Group 2 - ‘How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?’  Group 3 - control group.  not exposed to questions.
          • Part 2: Return to lab and asked further questions. Critical question was "‘Did you see any broken glass?’
        • Findings
          • Part 1: Participants gave higher speed estimates in the ‘smashed’ condition,
          • Part 2:  Participants in the ‘smashed’ condition were more likely to report seeing broken glass.
            • Group 1 (smashed) - 16 reported seeing broken glass; Group 2 (hit) - 7 reported seeing broken glass; Group 3 (control) -  6 reported seeing broken glass;.
    • Evaluation
      • Methodology and procedures
        • They used experiments, demonstrated causal relationships.
          • Manipulate IV (verb used), measure DV (estimate speed).
          • Laboratory means confounding variables can be controlled.
        • Watching a video of an accident isn't the same as witnessing a real one.
          • May not take it seriously or get the same emotions as real life.
            • Foster (1994) - participants thought they were watching a real-life robbery, their identification was more accurate.
            • Yuille and Cutshall (1986) - greater accuracy in real life. Witnessed an armed robbery in Canada. 4 months later they gave accurate reports.
              • Even after being given two misleading questions. Suggesting they have more accuracy in real life.
          • Lacks ecological validity.
        • Sample: US college students. Other groups may be more or less prone to be affected by misleading information.
      • Ethical issues and social implications
        • No valid consent - if participants were aware it may have affected their responses.
        • The issue is whether deception is acceptable. It had effect on our understanding of inaccuracy of EWT.
        • Participants didn't witness a real accident, responses would've been different in real life.
          • Lacking ecological validity.
          • Alternative would be for participants to witness accident but this could have caused psychological harm.
          • This study avoided the issue of psychological harm.
    • Conclusion
      • Response bias factors
        • The different speed estimates occur because the critical word  influences / biases a person’s response.
      • Memory representation is altered
        • The critical word changes a person’s memory so that their perception of the accident is affected.


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