Key studies- Memory

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ENCODING IN SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM MEMORY
Baddeley 1966
Aims
To investigate the type of encoding which is preferred by LTM and STM
Procedures
Four Word lists
Acoustically similar (meet/feet/sweet)
Semantically similar (neat/clean/tidy)
Acoustically dissimilar control
Semantically dissimilar ­ control
For STM participants asked to recall the one list of words they were given
immediately. To test LTM the participant was asked to recall their list after a timed
delay.
Findings
Baddeley found that in STM the words that sounded similar were remembered least
well and participants were more confused with these acoustically similar words. In
LTM the words remembered least well were those with similar meanings.
Conclusions
The confusion of semantically similar list in the test of later recall demonstrates the
importance of meaning in LTM and it can be concluded that encoding is mainly
semantic in LTM.
The confusion of the acousticallysimilar list demonstrates the importance of sound in
STM and it can be concluded that encoding is mainly acoustic in STM.
Criticisms
Low ecological validity ­ people don't recall word lists in everyday life and so the
results cannot be generalised.
Acoustic and semantic encoding are not the only codes used.
For example Posner (1969) demonstrated visual encoding can take
precedence over acoustic in STM as the letter combination AA was
processed over Aa yet there is no difference acoustically.
Songs in LTM ­ can be encoded on sound without any consideration of the
meaning.
CAPACITY IN SHORT TERM MEMORY
Jacobs' (1887)
Aims
To investigate how much information can be held in STM using a technique called the
`serial digit span'
Procedure
Participants were given a sequence of numbers or letters starting at 3 digits and
asked to serial recall them. (Repeat them in the same order that they were presented)

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The number of digits was then increased by one each time until the participant failed
to recall the sequence correctly. Test was repeated.
Findings
Average STM span was between 5 and 9 items.
Digits recalled better (9.3 items) than letters (7.3 items).
STM span increased with age.
Conclusions
Findings show STM has a limited capacity between 5 and 9 items.
Capacity of STM is not determined by nature of information but by size of STM
span.…read more

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Criticisms
Low ecological validity ­ not representative of everyday memory demands.
Trigrams are meaningless information and so may be remembered less well
than meaningful information.
DURATION IN LONG TERM MEMORY
Bahrick et al (1975)
Aims
They aimed to demonstrate that memories could endure in order to support the
assumption that duration of memory is infinite as this cannot be measured.
Procedure
392 exhigh school students aged 1774 years were tested in a number of ways
1.…read more

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Aims
To see if there is a difference between participants' recall of the association to neutral
or negative emotionally charged words and to experimentally test Freuds theory of
repression.
Procedures
First study participants were given word association tests to both neutral words
(window) and to negative emotionally charged words (fear). Then they were
presented with the original words as cues and asked to recall the associations that
they gave previously. Their galvanic skin reactions, such as sweating, were also
measured.…read more

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Findings
At 11 months 86% of UK participants had vivid, detailed and accurate memory
of event (flashbulb memory)
Only 29% of participants from other countries had same detail of memory.
Conclusions
Difference between nationalities suggests public ebvents that have cultural
relevance are more likely to be remembered by individuals of that cultyre that.
Also suggest findings with distinctive emotional impact are more memorable
and create a flashbulb memory.
Flashbulb memories are more enduring and so less subject to forgetting than
other types of memories.…read more

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Low ecological validity stories used artificial and unusual. Unconventional.
EYEWITNESS TESTIMONY
Loftus and Palmer (1974)
Aims
To investigate the effects of leading questions and language on immediate recall.
Procedure
45 students
Participants shown film of a car accident involving two cars
Each participant asked questions about speed of two cars
The independent variable was the language used in questions
Verbs such as `smashed' `hit' `bumped' and `contacted' were used.
Findings
The verb implied information about speed which affected participant's memory of
accident.…read more

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