Reconstructive Memory

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  • Bartlett researched first and then created the theory
  • Participants (Europeans) had to read the Native American story 'War of Ghosts' and recall the story over different periods of time
  • Because it was an unusual story from a different culture, the Europeans made a number of mistakes in their recall- TRANSFORMATION 
  • Participants were changing unfamiliar information to make it fit their own culture
  • There were more changes after each recollection and it became more simple- SIMPLIFICATION

Bransford and Johnson 1972:

  • Participants shown passage about laundry, 1/3 knew about it, 1/3 were told what it was about afterwards and understood it & 1/3 didn't know at all and couldn't make sense of it

To conclude, we make sense of a situation using prior knowledge called schemas 

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  • Bartlett believed memory is an active construction of what we think we see using prior knowledge to guide us 
  • We make effort after meaning- mix up events with elements of our existing knowledge and expectations 
  • Schemas --> packages of information about what we know

When we process a memory 2 things are used:

  • Perception --> we apply labels to objects and events based on past experiences and knoweldge
  • Imaging --> we use our own stored images to interpret memory

So, when we make a memory, it is constructed, previous knowledge is used to interpret information to be stored and past knoweldge is used to actively reconstruct memories to be recalled

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  • TRANSFORMATION --> when the information does not fit with the schema, it is changed
  • RATIONALISATION --> to fill in the gaps
  • DISTORTION --> the action of giving a misleading account or impression
  • SIMPLIFICATION --> to take information out that does not make sense 
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