forgetting, EWT and CI


Explanation for forgetting: proactive and retroact

  • Forgetting in the long term memory due to info being disrupted/ confused info = inaccurate recall
  • Most likely if too memories are similar

Proactive interference - old disructs new, works forward in time when info previously stored interferes with an attempt to recall something new

Retroactive interference - new disrupts old, works backwards in time when new inf disrupts info previously stored

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Evidence for interferance theory

  • Underwood and Postman (1960) divided participants into 2 groups, A learned a list of word pairs, e.g. cat-tree, then learned a second list where the second words were different e.g. cat-glass. Group B leaarned only the first lst. They were both asked to recall list 1, and group B had more accurate recall, showing retroactive interference played  role
  • Baddeley and Hitch (1977) wanted to see if it was a better explanation than just passage of time. They asked a rugby team to to remember the teams they had played week by week - most had missed some games so their "last team" may have been weeks ago. Results clearly showed that recall didn't depend on how long ago the match took place, it was more important how many matches they had played in the meantime. Recall of match 3 weeks ago was better if they hadn't played since = retroactive interference leads to forgetting
  • Critism = only really explains forgetting when 2 sets of info are similar. How often is this in cmparison to how much we forget? It's not common
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Explanation for forgetting: Retrieval failure

When the information is in the long term memory, but cannot be accessed (available but not accessable) because the retrieval cues are not present

Store a new memory + store info about situation (retrieval cues)

When we we recreate the same situation, retrieval cues will trigger the memory that we made

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Retrieval failure - Context

Retrieval cues can be based on context, the setting (a room) or situation (driving on the motorway) the info was encoded

Also referes to the way info is presented - e.g. words may be presented, spoken or sung, or shown in meaningful groups, or as a random collection.

Evidence shows retrieval is more likely when the context at encoding matches the context at retrieval

  • Abernethy (1940) showed students did better on a test when it was done in the same room that they were taught in, rather than a different classroom.
  • Godden & Baddeley (1975) investigated this. Groups of divers learned word lists either on land or under water, then recalled them in either the same or a new environment. Those who recalled in the same environment that they learned could recall 40% more words than those in a different environment = retrieval more likely when context matches
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Retrieval failure - State

Retrieval cues may also be based on our state / something internal e.g. mood or physical state - e.g. calm when learning, hard to recall when nervous

Physical / psychological state similar at coding and retrieval = better retrieval,

  • Mead & Ball (2007) focused on the mood music induced, playing either a minor (creating sad mood) or major key (happy) when learning and remembering. Participants remembered more when played the same type of music during both sessions as it recreated the same state
  •  Goodwin et al (1969) investigated alcohol as state, and found that when people encoded info when drunk, they were more likely to recall it in the same state. E.g. when they hid money and alcohol when drunk, they couldn't find it when sober, but could when they got drunk again.
  • Application of context = Crime reconstructions; return to place of crime to recreate retrieval cues
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Factors affecting EWT accuracy: misleading info -

Misleading info - added to the event after the incident occured through leading questions and post-event discussion

Misleading questions occur when questions are framed in a way that suggest a certain answer

  • Loftus and Palmer 1975 - participants watched a video of a car accident then were asked how fast were the cars going then they (critical verb - contacted/bumped/hit/collided/smashed)? The more violent the critical verb, the higher the estimate + they were also more likely to recall seeing broken glass even though there was none = the critical verb is key as leading questions easily influence people
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Factors affecting EWT accuracy: misleading info -

The original memory may be distorted through discussion to become more similar to others, or can be distorted by repeat interview = inaccurate recall

  • Gabbert et al (2003) studied participants in pairs. Both watched a video of the same crime but from different points, showing details that the other could not see. They discussed what they had seen before answering interview questions. 71% recalled details that they had not seen but believed they had, and obviously those who didn't discuss got 0% = we need to prevent witnesses fro mixing before reporting, or interview ASAP
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Factors affecting EWT accuracy: anxiety

People become anxious in stressful situations, usually accompanied by physical arousal (pounding heart, shallow beathing etc.) The physiological and psychological changes can impact how much we remember - but there is conflicting evidence:

  • Johnson and Scott (1976) told participants they were in the waiting room for an experiment. They heard an argument next door: low anxiety condition - a man came out with a pen and grease (control) on his hands, high anxiety condition - paper knife covered in blood. They then had to pick out the man out of 50 photos, with 49% recall low anxiety, only 33% high anxiety = high anxiety = poor recall + tunnel theory/ weapons focus = we focus on weapon not face
  • Yuille and Cutshall (1986) did a real life crime. 21 witness saw a man killed in a gun shop when he tried to rob it and completed an interview. 4 months later, 13 witnesses redid it and the results were that they recalled a large amount of the details. Those who said they were the most stress were the most accurate - 88% accuracy compared to less stressed 75%, so anxiety makes recall higher

Anxiety is difficult to measure empirically as we cant accurately measure behaviour, emotion, physical response and thoughts every time

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Improving accuracy of EWT: why?

Fisher (1987) investigated police interviews and found that witnesses were often bombrded with questions, asked to recall things ut of order and were subject to misleading questions

Geiselman et al (1985) developed the cognitive interview technique which used ideas from cognitive psychology to inprove recall

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Improving accuracy of EWT: process of cognitive in

1. Context Reinstatement - Recreate both nternal and external state, including mood, environmentl context, weather smells etc

2. Report everything - tell all that can be remembered about the event including seemingly trivial or fragmented details as they may cue other memories

3. Recall from a changed perspective - what would it have looked like from the view of a different person in the scene

4. Recall in reverse order - order events of incident not just chronologically

= They run through the event four times

+ other features have been added to make the enhanced cognitive interview: minimise distractions, open ended questions, pause after each response, adapt language to fit witness

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Improving accuracy of EWT: evidence of C.I.

  • Geiselman (1985) showed participants a video of a simulated crime, then took part in either 1) cognitive interview, 2) standard interview, or 3) interview under hypnosis. CI got more info than the others, but other research has shown that it also generates more incorrect info than other methods      + not an rl crime?
  • Fisher et al (1990) showed effectiveness irl with Miami police. Trained detectives used E.C.I and found that for genuine witnesses 46% more info was recalled by using it. Over 90% of these details were shown to be accurate
  • Report everything and context reinstatement are the most helpful - always use at least 2
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