Cognitive Case Studies

  • Created by: Ella
  • Created on: 15-04-13 17:01

Craik and Tulving 1975 AMR

Aim: to test the "Levels of Processing" theory by seeing whether words processed at different levels would affect recognition of these words


  • 24 participants
  • Shown a series of 60 words through a tachistoscope 
  • Asked a series of questions about the words
  • Questions required either a structural, phonetic or semantic processing
  • Participants were then asked to recognise words in a grid consisting of the original 60 words amongst 180 in total
  • All 24 participants did all three levels of processing


  • 17% of words recognised were at the structural level
  • 36% of words recognised were at the phonetic level
  • 63% of words recognised were at the semantic level
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Craik and Tulving 1975 C/V/R


  • The deeper the processing, the deeper the recognition of words
  • The recognition was greater for those words that were processed at a semantic level


  • Controls were the number of words at each level, word length, time words displayed, same participants, random order for three levels 
  • = good experimental validity, only the IV variable [types of processing] was affecting then DV
  • DV [extraneous variable controlled] = not good ecological validity, task was artifical, could not relate to real life learning experiences


  • Hyde and Jenkins - 5 different levels, deep processing, participants rated pleasantness of words
  • no different if memory was intentional or not
  • high reliability 
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Craik and Tulving 1975 A/O


  • Good for revising


  • Experiment support theory and experimental validity, IV directly affects the DV
  • Good reliability as results were consistent and constant
  • Not good ecological validity as cannot be related to everyday life


  • Led to experiments, most of which confirmed the superiority of 'deep' semantic processing


  • Concepts of depth is vague and cannot be observed, therefore cannot be objectively measured
  • Does not explain how the deeper processing results in better memories
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Loftus and Palmer 1974 AM Exp 1

Aim: To investigate whether the wording of a question could alter a participant's recall. Consisted of two laboratory experiments, both examples of independent groups. 


  • 45 students
  • 7 film clips of traffic accidents
  • Ranged from 5 to 30 seconds
  • Following each clip, students had to write an account of the accident they had just seen
  • Asked questions, critical ones concerning speed of vehicle e.g. hit, smashed, contacted
  • Independent variable = verb used
  • Dependent variable = speed estimate by participants
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Loftus and Palmer 1974 RESULTS Exp 1 & 2

Experiment One

Smashed 40.8

Collided 39.3

Bumped 38.1

Hit 34.0

Contacted 31.8

Experiment Two

Smashed = 16 said yes, 34 said no

Hit = 7 said yes, 43 said no

Control Group = 6 said yes, 44 said no

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Loftus and Palmer 1974 EXP2 C, Overall S/W

  • Permanent altered memory due to post even information
  • Show a significant effect of the verb in the q on the mis-perception of glass in the film

EXP 2 - Conclusions

  • Post-event info permanently altered the eye-witness original mmemory of the event
  • Police should be careful to ask leading questions when doing eyewitness interviews as these could change the witness' recall of the crime


  • Well controlled, high experimental validity
  • Large samples more likely to be generalizable
  • Application to real life in that it has important implications to police interviews


  • Not realistic in that the participants did not have direct involvement, lacks ecological v
  • Arguable how representative students are as a generalisation
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Godden and Baddeley 1975 AMR

Aim: To investigate whether phonetic words were recalled when the context for learning and recall was the same, rather than if the context was differen - land and underwater


  • Conducted in Scotland, groups of four
  • 18 participants - 13 male, 5 female
  • Repeated measures design
  • 4 minute gap for divers to change context
  • Task was to learn words from a list of 36


Land Land - 13.5

Land Underwater - 8.6

Underwater Land - 8.4

Underwater Underwater - 11.4

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Godden and Baddeley 1975 C/Info


  • Forgetting occurs when context cues are absent

Extra Info

  • First experiment had 4 minutes change in context
  • Second experiment was conducted to see if the gap in changing of context could allow rehearsal
  • No advantage from rehearsal
  • No difference in results
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Godden and Baddeley 1975 EVALUATION


  • Experimental = high, set out to test what they did, not realised but realistic situations, lacked mundane realism
  • Ecological = fairly high, realistic situation for divers, low = the way they learnt


  • Lang et Al showed similar findings - context/state cues do play a role in learning & recall
  • High reliability, showed similar findings to Abernethy, standardised procedures


  • Only used 18 participants, fairly small sample size, used both sexes, not specialised for one gender. Difficult to generalise because contexts e.g. underwater would not realistically/normally be used

Applications - future to ensure good recall/learning, accurate eye witness statements

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Godden and Baddeley DESIGN EVAL


  • Highly controlled experiment makes it more reliable
  • The only variable that changed is the IV
  • All of the divers were in the same wet and cold state for 4 minutes between land and underwater


  • Diver could rehearse
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McGeoch & McDonald 1931 AMR

Aim: to test retroactive interference by comparing recall of a word list after learning similar or dissimilar information.


  • 12 participants
  • Repeated measures experiment - counterbalanced to avoid order effect
  • Task of words to learn
  • 10 words to learn
  • Followed by six other tasks


  • Rest for 10 minutes = 4.5
  • 3 digit numbers = 3.7 
  • Nonsense syllables = 2.6
  • Unrelated words = 2.2
  • Antonyms = 1.8
  • Synonyms = 1.3
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McGeoch & McDonald 1931 C/EVAL


  • Similar information competes for memory space within old memory
  • Supports retroactive interference


  • Well-controlled study
  • Avoided confounding variable
  • IV affected the DV


  • Small sample of participants
  • 12 participants but tested 6 times
  • Difficult to generalise, very small sample size
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