Psychology AS: Memory

  • Models of Memory (Multi-store and Working Memory)
  • Memory in Everyday Life (Eyewitness Testimony, Cognitive Interview Techniques and Strategies for Memory Improvement)
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Atkinson and Shiffrin's Multi-Store Model of Memor


  • first attempt to develop a general model of memory
  • explains how information flows from one storage system to another
  • three permanent structures- sensory memory, short-term memory (STM) and long-term memory (LTM)
  • all differ depending on capacity (how much can be stored), duration (how long for) and encoding (in which form it is stored)
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Sensory Memory

  • retains impressions of the information received through the senses
  • most information is immediately forgotten unless paid close attention to
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Short-Term Memory (STM)

  • active memory system
  • contains all information you're currently reflecting on
  • temporary storage for information received from sensory memory


  • tends to be encoded on an acoustic basis (Baddeley's immediate recall 'Cat/Mat' Study)


  • limited capacity (Jacob's 'Serial Digit Span' Studies) -> Miller's Magic Number seven plus/minus two (7 +/- 2)


  • very short, less than 30 seconds (Peterson and Peterson's 'Trigam Retention' Experiment (rapid decay/loss without rehearsal)
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Long-Term Memory (LTM)

  • the storage of information over long periods of time
  • anything more than 30 seconds is LTM


  • tends to be encoded on a semantic basis (Baddeley's delayed recall 'Cat/Mat' Study)


  • potential capacity is unlimited


  • a memory can last a lifetime -> LTM dependent on how long you live
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Evaluation and Analysis MSM


  • influential -> still in use today
  • evidence for different types of stores with different capacity, duration and encoding
  • case study K.F. brain damage -> STM difficult, types of LTM fine 


  • case study K.F. -> STM more complicated than suggested, because VISUAL STM was unaffected and VERBAL STM was affected
  • rehearsal is not always sufficient, but sometimes one time is enough
  • uni-directional, yet sometimes we need to use LTM to retrieve
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Baddeley and Hitch's Working Memory Model (WM)

  • only deals with short term memory (STM)
  • argues it is far more complex than MSM suggests
  • active store
  • multi-component working memory


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Components of the WM I

Central Executive

  • involved in higher mental proceses (e.g. decision making)
  • allocates recources to slave systems -> delegates
  • limited capacity, but very flexible and can process information from any of the senses

Articulatory Control System

  • 'inner voice'
  • part of phonological loop
  • holds the words we're preparing to speak
  • capacity- 2 seconds
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Components of the WM II

Phonological Store

  • 'inner ear'
  • also part of phonological loop
  • stores auditory information in an acoustic code

Visuo-spatial Scratchpad

  • 'inner eye'
  • processes movement and actions
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Evaluation and Analysis WM


  • reserach supports dual tasks
  • importance of rehearsal more realistic, not overstated like in MSM
  • PET scan -> brain evidence


  • only focused on STM, does not cover interaction with LTM
  • central executive not well described, little evidence
  • doesn't explain the process of learning
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Eyewitness Testimony (EWT)

  • schemas (ready-made expectations), witness factors (age, gender, race, individual response to stress) and event factors (duration, level of violence) may affect EWT accuracy  
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EWT and Anxiety

  • Deffenbacher's 'inverted U' theory


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EWT/Anxiety Supporting Evidence

  • Peters: nurse/researcher -> identification of researcher easier
  • Yuille and Cutshall:  (real life) shooting, one person killed and another wounded -> still very good recall, may have been due to being closer to the event
  • over-simplistic explanation
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EWT and Age


  • Dent: children usually provide fewer details than adults without being prompted, perform significantly worse with specific questions
  • child can match adult level accuracy with particular interest
  • Roberts and Lamb: 'in private' vs. 'in the private'
  • when context is reinstated recall is as good as adult recall


  • older people perform worse on EWT studies than young or middle aged adults

Elderly people

  • more likely to make false accusations, worse at recalling specific details
  • especially elderly men let misleading, post-event information mislead them
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Loftus and Palmer (Role of (Mis-)leading Informati

Two types of misleading questions:

  • leading questions
  • 'after-the-fact information' questions
  • Loftus and Palmer: smashed, collided, bumped, hit, collided
  • "Was there glass?" a week later

-> demand characteristics may explain findings

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Cognitive Interview Techniques

  • attempt to minimise the inaccuracy and distortion of EWT

1. Change of Narrative Order

2. Change of Perspective

3. Mental Reinstatement of Context


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Evaluation of Cognitive Interview Usage


  • a lot of (50) reserach supports its effectiveness
  • has been enhanced: build greater rapport
  • validity: compares well against to standard interview and hypnosis interview


  • practical problems such as training issues and unwillingness to apply 
  • limited use by police due to fear of accidentally asking the witness to speculate
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Strategies for Memory Improvement

  • the more information is organised, the easier it is to recall
  • Organisation of Material into Categories
  • Chunking (Miller's Magic Number support)
  • Imagery
  • Revision
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