CASE STUDY - Bartlett (1932)

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  • Created by: Medivxl
  • Created on: 31-03-16 11:20

key terminology

serial reproduction:  peice of info passed from one participant to the next in a chain or 'series'. differences between each version measured.

eg. chinese whispers

repeated reproduction:  participant given story or picture to remember. then recall it several times after time delays. differences between each version measured.

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Aim: wanted to investigate how info changes with each reproduction and find out why info changes.

'war of the ghosts' north american indian folk tale used as it was unknown to the participants.

  • 1st participant read story twice to themselves (serial reproduction)
  • after 15-30 minutes told story to second participant
  • each participant repeated story to the next person in a chain.

repeated reproduction task:

  • each paticpant was tested seperately after rreading story twice
  • 15 minutes gave areproduction of it
  • then again at 20 hours, 8 days, 6 months and ten years for different participants
  • participantsdidnt know aim of study
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very few participants recalled story accurately

following patteren of erors were found:

  • form - order of the events
  • details - names, numbers were lost
  • simplification - details left out or made more familiar
  • addition - innaccurate details included.

concluded that unfamiliar material changes when recalled, becomes shorter, simplier and more stereotyped

may be due to effect of schema on memory.

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strengths and weaknesses


  • both repeated and serial takes were done several times to show that the changes in the story followed the same pattern
  • other stories also used and showed similar results


  • choosing unfamiliar material, could not be sure that the changes would happen with familiar inspiration
  • did not test repeatd reproduction particiants after the same time intervals, so changes cannot be compared fairly.
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