PSY1- Cognitive Psychology

Models of memory, eye witness testimony, the cognitive interview, memory improvement stratergy

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Multi-Store Model- Atkinson And Shriffin (1968)

Explanation:Information is taken in through senses (smell,auditory,touch,tatse visual), then it is stored in the STM for a limited amount of time. Then through rehearsal it goes into the long term memory (LTM)

Sensory Memory--> STM--> Rehearsal-->LTM

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Evaluation Of The Multi-Store Model


Supports that memory is made up of separate stores.

Peterson and Peterson- laboratory experiement.

The Primacy- Research shows that participants are able to recall the first few items of a list better than those from the middle. The multi-store model explains this because earlier items will have been rehearsed better and transferred to LTM.


Too simplistic- Stores not unitary and information flow not linear.

The model is oversimplified. It assumes there is only one long term store and one short term store. This has been disproved by evidence from brain damaged patients, suggesting several different short term stores and other evidence suggesting different long term stores.

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Working Memory Model- Baddelely and Hitch (1974)

Explanation- The working Memory Model is made up of four componets:

The Central Executive is the key component and can be described as attention. It has limited capacity and controls two slave system that also have limited.

The Articulatory-Phonological Loop holds speech based information. It contains a phonological store (the inner ear) and an articulatory process (the inner voice).

The Visuo Spatial Sketchpad deals with the temporary storage of visual and spatial information.

The Episodic Buffer is an extra storage system for STM and LTM. Allows you to see and hear at the same time.

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Working Memory Model- Baddelely and Hitch (1974) (

Evaluation of working memory model

Support- Baddeley and Hitch tested participants on doing two tasks simultaneously. They found out that doing two tasks using the same functions (visual or auditory) is different but when different functions are used the performance is not affected.

Strengths- There is a considerable amount of evidence to support the WMM. More recent studies show direct links between certain tasks and activation of parts of the brain demonstrating physical representation of the components of the WMM. This proves the working memory is correct and exists.

Weaknesses- Critics feel that the idea of a central executive is wrong. There are probably several components and multiple central executives. The WMM is probably more complicated that currently represented. Baddeley and hitch's idea of a central executive is simplistic and vague. Their model doesn't really explain exactly what the central executive is, apart from being involved in attention.

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Eye Witness Testimony (EWT)

Definition- Evidence supplied by people who who witness a specific event or crime, relying only on their memories.

Loftus and Palmer (1974) investigated how eye witness testimony can distorted.

They used leading questions, where a certain answer is subtly implied.

Loftus and Palmer carried two experiment in their study.

Method- Participants were shown a film of a multiple car crash. They were asked a series of questions including "how fast do you think the cars were going when they hit?" In different conditions, the word 'hit' was replaced with 'smashed', 'collided', 'bumped' or 'contacted'.

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Loftus And Palmer (1974) (continued)

Results- It was seen that participants given the word 'smashed' estimated the highest (an average of 41mph), and those given the word 'contacted' gave the lowest estimate (an average of 32mph).

Method 2:The participants were split into 3 group. One group was given the verb 'smashed', another 'hit' and the third, control group wasn't given any indications of the vehicles speed. A week later, the participants were asked 'did you see any broken glass?'

Results: Although there was no broken glass in the film, participants were more likely to say that they'd seen broken glass in the 'smashed' condition than any other.

Conclusion: Leading questions can effect the accuracy of people's memories of an event.

Evaluation: This has implications for questions in police interviews. However, this was an artificial experiment- watching a video is not as emotionally arousing as a real life event, which potentially effects recall. In fact a later study found that participants

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Loftus And Palmer (1974) (continued)

who thought they'd witnessed a real robbery gave a more accurate description of the robber. The experimental design might lead to demand characteristics, where the results are skewed because of the participants' expectations about the purposes of the experiment. For example, the leading questions might hae given participants clues about the nature of the experiment (e.g. they could have realised that the experiment was about susceptibility to leading questions), and so participants might have acted accordingly. This would have reduced the validity and reliability of the experiment.

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Factors affecting the accuracy of EWT

The age of the witness can effect the accuracy of recall. Valentine and Coxon (1997) studied the effect of age on EWT.

Method: 3 groups of participants (children, young adults and elderly people) watched a video of a kidnapping. They were then asked a series of questions about what they had seen.

Results:Both the elderly people and children gave more incorrect answers to non-leading questions. Children were misled more by leading questions than adults and elderly.

Conclusions: So therefore age has an effect on the accuracy of eyewitness testimony.

Evaluation:This has implications in law when children or elderly people are questioned. However, the experiment was artificial and so wasn'y as emotionally arousing as the same situation would have been in real life. The study lacks ecological validity. The study could have seemed like an experiment into much people remember things from T.V, which isn't the same as real life.

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Factors affecting the accuracy of EWT- Anxiety

Psychologists tend to believe that small increases in anxiety and arousal may increase the accuracy of memory, but high levels may have a negative effect on accuracy. In violent crimes (where anxiety and arousal are likely to be high), the witness may focus on central details (e.g. a weapon) and neglect other peripheral details.

Loftus (1979) studied weapon focus in EWT.

Method: In an independant groups design participants heard a discussion in a nearby room. In one condition, a man came out of the room with a pen and grease on his hands. In the second condition, the man came out carrying a knife covered in blood. Participants were asked to indentify the man from 50 photographs.

Results: Participants in condition 1 were 49% correct accurate. Only 33% of the participants in condition 2 were correct.

Conclusion: when anxious and aroused, witnesses focus on a weapon at the expenses of other details.

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Factors affecting the accuracy of EWT- Anxiety (co

Evaluation:The study has high ecological validity, as the participants weren't aware that the study was staged. However, this means that there are ethical considerations, as participants could have been very stressed at the sight of a man with a knife.

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The Cognitive Interview

The cognitive interview was developed to increase accuracy.The interviewer tries to make the witness relaxed. Recreate the context of the original incident. The witness reports every detail as clearly as they can about the crime.The witness recalls the event in different orders. The witness is asked to recall the event from various different perspectives.

Geiselman et al (1986) studied the effects of the cognitive interview.

Method:In a staged situation, an intruder carrying a blue rucksack entered a classroom and stole a slide projector. Two days later participants were questioned about the event. The study used an independant groups design-participants were either questioned using a standard interview procedure or cognitive interview technique. Early in the questioning, participants were asked 'was the guy with the green backpack nervous?'. Later in the interview participants were asked what colour the mans bag was.

Results:Participants in the cognitive interview condition were less likely to recall the rucksack as being green than those in the standard interview.

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The cognitive interview (continued)

Conclusion:The cognitive interview technique enhances memory recall and reduces the effect of leading questions.

Evaluation:The experiment was conducted as though a real crime had taken place. in the classroom- it had high ecological validity. The experiment used an independant groups design. The disadvantage of this is that the participants in the cognitive interview condition could have been naturally less susceptible to leading questions than the other group.

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