Psychology Unit one Studies


Murdock (Memory)

Multi-Store Explanation

Aim: To provide evidence to support evidence for the multi-store explanation of memory.

Method: Participants had to learn a list of words that were presented one at a time and had roughly two seconds per word. They were then asked to recall the words in any order.

Results: The words at the end of the list were recalled first ( recency effect) and the words at the beginning of the list were also recalled quite well (primacy effect) however the middle words were not recalled very well at all.

Conclusion: This provides evidence of the short term and long memory stores. The recency effect was evidence that they were stil in the short term memory where as the primacy effect was evidence of the long term memory. 

Recency effect - Information received later is recalled better than earlier information.

Primacy effect - the first information received is recalled better than subsequent information.

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Barlett (Memory)


Aim: To see if people, when given something unfamiliar to remember would alter the information

Method: Participants were asked to read a story called the "War of the ghosts" which was a native American legend. Later they were asked to recall the story as accurately as they could. This retelling was repeated for several weeks after.

Results: The participants found it difficult to remember bits of the story concerned with spirits and changed other bits of the story so it made more sense to them. Each time they told the story it got changed even more.

Conclusion: Our memory is influenced by our own beliefs. 

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Craik and Lockhart (Memory)

Levels of Processing

Aim: To see if the type of question asked about words would have an effect on the number of words recalled.

Method: Participants were presented with a list of words, one at a time and asked questions about the word, to which they had to answer yes or no. Some questions required structural processing (How the word looks) others required phonetic processing (How the word sounds)  and the rest required semantic processing ( Thinking about the meaning of the word) They were then given a longer list of words and asked to identify the words they had just been asked about. 

Results: Participant identified 70% of the words that required semantic processing, 35% of the words that required phonetic processing and 15% of the words that required structural processing. 

Conclusion: The more deeply information is processed the more likely it is to be remembered. 

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Underwood and Postman (Memory)


Aim: To see if new learning interferes with previous learning

Method: Group A were asked to learn a group of word pairs. They were then asked to learn a second list of word pairs. Group B were only asked to learn one list of word pairs. Then both groups were asked to recall the first list. 

Results: Group B's recall of the list was more accurate than those in Group A.

Conclusion: New learning interfered with participants' ability to recall the first list. 

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Godden and Baddely (Memory)


Aim: To see if people who learn and are tested in the same environment will recall more information than those who learn and are tested in different environments. 

Method: Participants were deep sea divers. They were divided into four groups, each group were asked to learn  the same list of words.

  • Group 1: Learn and recall underwater 
  • Group 2: Learn underwater and recall on shore 
  • Group 3: Learn and recall on shore 
  • Group 4: Learn on shore and recall underwater

Results: Groups 1 and 3 recalled 40% more words than those in Groups 2 and 4

Conclusion: Recall of information will be better if it happens in the same context that learning takes place. 

Context: The general settings or environment in which activities happen. 

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Case Study (Miller)

Brain Damage

A boy who suffered from epilepsy underwent an operation to remove 2 thirds of his hio=ppocampus. After the operation he could no longer learn new information ( Anterograde amnesia) This shows that the hippocampus is plays a vital part in recording new memories. 

Anterograde Amnesia: Being unable to learn new information after suffering brain damage.

Retrograde Amnesia: Loss of memory for events that happened before brain damage occured. 

^^^ Retro = Old = Old memories

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Davitz and Davitz (NVC)

Verbal Communication

Aim: To see the effect of paralinguistics on the assesment of emotion

Method: Participants were asked to listen to tape recordings and to asses the speakers' emotions from the paralinguistic cues : Tone of voice, emphasis and intonation.

Results: There was a very high accuracy in recognising  these emotions: Affection, amusement disgust and fear. 

Conclusion: Paralinguistics has great importance when judging emotion. 

Tone of voice: The way words are spoken to convey emotion.

Intonation: Inflection in the voice when speaking 

Emphasis: Giving prominence on some words more than others.

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Mcginley et al (NVC)


Aim: To see the effect of open and closed posture when having a conversation.

Method: A confederate approached individuals in a social setting and had conversations with them. In half of the conversations the confederate adopted an open posture and in the other half the confederate adopted a closed posture. Afterwards the experimenter approached the individuals and asked them what they thought of the confederate.

Results: When showing an open posture the confederate was seen as friendly and attractive, when showing a closed posture the confederate was seen as unfriendly and less attractive.

Conclusion: The posture that someone adopts can make a difference to how much they are liked. 

Open posture: Positioning the arms so they are not fold across the body

Closed posture: Positioning the arms over the body and/or crossing the legs

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Argyle (NVC)

Eye Contact

Aim: To see how interrupting eye contact affects conversation

Method: Pairs of participants were observed having a conversation in half of the conversation one of the participants wore dark glasses so that the other one could not receive eye contact.

Results: When the participants wore dark glasses there were more pauses and interruptions than when the glasses were worn.

Conclusion: Eye contact is important in ensuring the smooth flow of conversation. 

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Hess (NVC)

Pupil Dilation

Aim: To see the effect of pupil dilation on emotion

Method: Participants were shown two nearly identical photos of the same girl. They were then asked which picture they found more attractive. The only difference between the two pictures was in one of them the girls pupils were dilated.

Results: The majority of participants said that the the picture where the girls pupils were dilated was more attractive, however they could not say why.

Conclusion: Pupil dilation has an unconscious but powerful effect on emotion. 

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Willis (Personal Space)


Aim: To see if age has an effect on personal space. 

Method: Willis observed almost 800 individuals in different social settings. 

Results: Those he observed stood closer to people their own age and further away from people who were much older or much younger than themselves.

Conclusion: Age differences affects how close people will stand to each other. 

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Zahn (Personal space)


Aim: To see if status has an effect on personal space.

Method: Zahn observed people of equal status approaching each other to have a conversation. He also observed people of unequal status approaching each other. 

Results: People of a lower status did not approach higher status people with the same degree of closeness as those of an equal status. 

Conclusion: The use of personal space varies with differences in status when approaching others. 

Personal space: The distance we keep between ourselves and others in every day life. 

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Summer (Personal space)

Cultural Norms

Aim: To see if there are cultural differences in the use of personal space. 

Method: He observed groups of white English people and groups of Arab people in conversation.

Results: The comfortable conversation distance for white english people was 1/1.5 m where as the Arab people it was much less than that.

Conclusion: The use of personal space in normal conversation varies with culture.

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Argyle and Dean ( Personal space)

Sex differences

Aim: To see if sex differences affect personal space.

Method: One at a time participants were participants were asked to sit and have a conversation with another person (who was a confederate). The confederate would be either of the same sex of opposite sex to the participant. The confederate sat at different distances from the participants and continually looked into their eyes. 

Results: The participants tend to break eye contact with the confederate of the opposite sex at a greater distance apart than when the confederate was of the same sex. This was thought to happen when personal space was being invaded. 

Conclusion: We prefer to have a greater amount of personal space between ourselves and members of the opposite sex during normal conversation. 

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Lynn and Myneir (NVC)


Aim: To see the effect of gestures used by waiters and waitresses on the tipping behaviour of customers in a restaurant. 

Method: Whilst taking orders from seated custormers the staff would either stand upright or they would squat down so they had better eye contact with the customers. 

Results: When the staff squatted down larger tips were given. 

Conclusion: The gesture of squatting down near a seated customer to take an order will have a positive effect on tipping behaviour. 

Gesture: A form of non verbal communication where we coniously or unconiously move parts of our body to convey messages. 

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Fisher et al (NVC)


Aim: To see the effect of touch on peoples attitude.

Method: Female students at a library were handed books by the librarian (who was a confederate) Half of the students were briefly touched on the hand by the librarian when the books were given out and the others weren't. 

Results: When questioned later, the students who were touched had a more positive attitude towards the library/librarian, however the students didn't know they had been touched.

Conclusion: Touch can have an unconscious effect on positive attitudes. 

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