- To investigate the effects of language on memory
- To see whether memory distortion truly occurs
- To see whether changing the leading questions effects memory distortion
- 45 students shown clips of traffic accidents
- After were split into 5 groups and asked the critical question --- 'How fast were the cars going when they _____ into each other?'.
- Verbs were: Hit, smashed, collided, bumped, contacted.
IV: The critical verb
DV: The speed estimate
Results: Mean estimates
- Smashed (group 1) - 40.8
- Collided (group 2) - 39.3
- Bumped (group 3)- 38.1
- Hit (group 4)- 34.0
- Contacted (group 5)- 31.8
- Smashed group were the fastest rated verb.
- Response had biased factors, manipulating words may be lead to demand characteristics
- Participants memory may be distorted by the leading question
To further validate this experiment, they used concurrent validity.
- 150 participants watched a short film that showed a multicar crash
- Participants were then split into 3 groups of 50
- 'How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?'
- 'How fast were the cars going when they smashed each other?'
- Asked no question. (control group)
- A week later, subjects were asked 'Did you see any broken glass?' There wasn't any.
Did you see any broken Glass? :
Yes - smashed- 16 Hit-6 Control- 6
No- smashed- 34 Hit-43 Control- 44
- Results show verb used in original question influences whether participants thought whether they saw broken glass or not.
The second experiment did alter people's memory.
Loftus suggested 2 kinds of information go into the memory:
- Person's own subjective perception at the time of the event
- information recieved after the event via leading questions or other opinions
They Become intergrated to make a whole memory.
- Labortary experiment- lots of control
- High reliability- easily repeated
- Low ecological Validity
- Participants knew they were taking part
- Demand characteristics- as they were students to experimentor
- Students usually young- said memory is better when younger
- students are used to taking on information all the time and being tested
- Students may be susceptible to demand characteristics
- Students may not drive
Good - allows us to compare easily
Bad- Doesn't have back up to explain answer
Improvement - Ask how conficent they were with their answers or take them to a real crash site - increases ecological validity.
- Leading questions can effect memory
- Avoiding leading questions
- Make sure court cases are relied on more than just one eye witness testimonies.