Loftus & Palmer (1974)

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  • Created on: 15-01-13 21:20
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Loftus & Palmer (1974)
To see if the phrasing of questions would affect speed estimates.
First experiment
45 participants split into the 5 conditions.
They watched a video of a car crash and where then asked questions about
the incident including one about the speed of the car when it
o Smashed
o Crashed
o Bumped
o Hit
o Contacted, the other cars.
9mph difference in the estimates for `smashed' (40.8mph) and `contacted'
Participants used the verb to help judge the speed of the car (as speed is
often difficult to judge).
The verb (external information) was able to distort the memory of the
event ­ a second experiment was conducted to test this.
Second experiment
150 participants split into 3 groups and watched video of an accident
Completed a questionnaire to describe in their own words the incident
Verbs used in the speed question;
o Smashed
o Hit
o No verb ­ control
One week later the participants were asked if there was any broken glass
(participants did not re-watch the video)
There was no broken glass in the original video.
`Smashed' ­ 16 participants believed they saw broken glass
`Hit' - 7
`No verb' ­ 6

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Information gained after an event by external sources (in this case the verb)
becomes integrated with the original memory and forms a single
memory over time.
High reliability
o Being a lab experiment there were high levels of control (all
participants watched the same video etc.) so the study can be
Quantitative data gathered in the form of speed estimates, so the study is
objective.…read more


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