Psychology Cognitive Case Studies

These are all the case studies needed for UNit 2 of Psychology Edxcel! Hope it helps!

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  • Created on: 07-11-13 15:26
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Jacobs (1887) ­ Capacity STM
Aim: Jacob's aims were to demonstrate how much info could be stored in immediate or short-term
Participants were read lists of either words or numbers that they had to recall immediately after
presentation. Jacobs gradually increased the length of these digits etc. until the participant could only
accurately recall the information, in the correct order, on 50% of occasions. Recall has to be in the
correct order (serial recall).
Jacobs found a difference between capacity for numbers and for letters. On average
participants could recall 9 numbers but only 7 letters.
He also noticed that recall seemed to increase with age. Eight year olds being able to rec
all an average of 7 digits whereas by the age of 19 recall had increased to 9 digits.
(NB later studies have suggested that capacity does eventually start to decrease in much
older participants).
STM has a capacity of between 5 and 9 items of information and as age increases we appear to
develop better strategies of recall. STM has a limited storage capacity of 5-9 items. Individual
differences were found including age & Chunking techniques. Digits may be easier to remember as
there are 10 different digits to remember, compared to 26 letters. This result suggested that the
STM is limited to a capacity of about 7 items of information +/- 2 as stated by Miller depending on
the material used.
Lab experiment so there were high levels of control.
Standardized procedures - easy to repeat the study.
Use of different ages can be used to generalize to all members of society.
Lacks in mundane realism.
Not generalizable to real life.
Age differences (memory improves during childhood and decays during elderly years)
Memory impairments - medical issues/brain damage.
Intelligence (different IQ's) can cause differences to results.
This study is not able to be generalizable to real life as the concept of it is not something we would
do every day. The difference in ages can cause a difference in results though. The study lacks in
mundane realism and ecological validity as it was conducted in a lab; although there were high levels
of control. Standardized procedures were used which means that the study can be easily repeated
and used again.

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Peterson and Peterson (1959) ­ Duration STM
Aim: To investigate the duration of short-term memory, and provide empirical evidence for the
multi-store model.
A lab experiment was conducted in
which 24 participants (psychology
students) had to recall trigrams
(meaningless three-consonant
syllables, e.g. TGH). To prevent
rehearsal participants were asked to
count backwards in threes or fours
from a specified random number until
they saw a red light appear. This is
known as the brown Peterson
technique e.…read more

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The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of environmental encoding cues on the ability to
recall. In particular Godden and Baddeley wanted to investigate the role of context cues and test
cue-dependency theory which argues that recall will be better if it takes place in the same
environment as learning.
Eighteen participants were recruited from a university diving club in Scotland. There were 13
male and 5 female participants and all participants used their own SCUBA equipment.…read more

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For example, when participants learnt and recalled on dry land the mean number of words recalled
was 13.5 and similarly when participants had to learn and recall in the water the mean score was
11.4. The mean number of words recalled was much lower when the learning and recall environments
were different. For example, the mean score for learning in the wet condition and recalling in the dry
condition was only 8.5.…read more

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The aim of the study was to investigate the nature of coding in STM.
Conrad presented participants with several series of 6 letters visually at a rate of 0.75 seconds per
letter. The letters used were selected from B, C, F, M, N, P, S, T, V, & X. Participants were told that
they had to write down each list in the order the letters were given immediately after the
presentation (thus making this a STM task).…read more

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Aim: To investigate the retention of names and faces of high school classmates up to 47 years later
using both recall and recognition
374 participants aged between 17 and 74 were tested on their memory of school friends. A number
of different tests were carried out including a free recall of all the names of classmates they could
remember, recognition of classmates from a selection of 50 photographs, a name recognition test
and a photo matching test.…read more


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