# Core Studies: Loftus & Palmer

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## Background

In this study Loftus and Palmer are attempting to demonstrate that memory is not a factual recording of an event and that memories can become distorted by other information which occurs after the event.

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## Aim

To see the effect of leading questions on the memory of an event

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## Experiment 1 - Sample

• 45 students of the University of Washington
• Split into 5 groups of 9
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## Experiment 1 - Procedure

• Laboratory Experiment
• Independent Measures Design
• They were each shown seven film-clips of traffic accidents
• The clips ranged from 5 to 30 seconds long.
• Following each clip, the students were asked to write an account of the accident they had just seen.
• IV - The verb in the critical question
• DV - Estimate of the speeds
• There were five conditions in the experiment:
• Condition 1: 'About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?'

Condition 2: 'About how fast were the cars going when they collided into each other?'

Condition 3: 'About how fast were the cars going when they bumped into each other?'

Condition 4: 'About how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?

Condition 5: 'About how fast were the cars going when they contacted each other?'

•  In each condition, a different word or phrase was used to fill in the blank. These words were; smashed, collided, bumped, hit, contacted.

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## Experiment 1 - Results

• Verb & Estimation of Speeds:
• Smashed: 40.8 mph
• Collided: 39.3 mph
• Bumped 38.1 mph
• Hit 34.0 mph
• Contacted 31.8 mph

• Estimate of the cars speeds did vary according to the verb used in the crictical question
• 'Contacted' got the lowest estimate and 'Smashed' got the highest.
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## Experiment 2 - Sample

• 150 participants
• Split into 3 groups of 50
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## Experiment 2 - Procedure

• Participants viewed a short (one minute) film which contained a 4 second scene of a multiple car accident
• There were three conditions:
• 'How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?'
• 'How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?'
• Control group (One set of participants weren't asked about the speed of vehicles)
• One week later, the participants returned and, without viewing the film again, they answered a series of questions about the accident.
• The critical question was 'Did you see any broken glass?'
• There was in fact no broken glass in the film.
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## Experiment 2 - Results

Response to the question 'Did you see any broken glass?'

• 'Smashed' Yes = 16, No = 34
• 'Hit'         Yes = 7, No = 43
• 'Control'    Yes = 6 No = 44
• These results show that the verb (smashed) in the question did have a significant effect on the mis-perception of glass in the film.
• Those participants that heard the word ?smashed? were more than twice as likely to recall seeing broken glass.
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## Conclusions

There are 2 types of info which make up a memory:

• Information we get from percieving an event
• Information we get after the event eg. questions asked.
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## Key Evaluation Points

Laboratory Experiment

• High levels of control
• Low ecological validity

Ethics

• Consent Gained
• Possible distress

Quantative data

• Easy to analyse
• Easy to compare
• Restricted views
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## Improvements/ Changes & Implications

An actual car crash with dummies

• Ethically sound
• Low ecological validity

Improve sample

• Diverse - representative

Longitudinal Study

• High reliability
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