Definitions, description of studies (incl. aim, method, results, conclusion), evaluations and practical applications.

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  • Created on: 29-05-14 20:40

1.1.1: Multi-store explanation of memory


  • Encoding: changing information so that it can be stored.
  • Storage: holding information in the memory system.
  • Retrieval: recovering information from storage.
  • Multi-store: the idea that information passes through a series of memory stores.
  • Sensory store: holds information received from the senses for a very short period of time (<1 second).
  • Short-term store: holds approx. 7±2 chunks of information for a limited amount of time (<1 minute).
  • Long-term store: holds a vast amount of information for a very long period of time.
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1.1.1: Peterson & Peterson

Aim: to see if rehearsal was necessary to hold information in the short-term store.
Method: 1. participants were given sets of 3 letters to memorise
2. asked to immediately count backwards in 3's out loud (for different lengths of time). 
3. done to prevent rehearsal. 
4. participants then asked to recall letters in correct order.
Results: participants had forgotten virtually all of the information after 18 seconds. 
Conclusion: we cannot hold information in the short-term store unless we rehearse it.

✓ helps us to understand why it is so difficult to remember car registration numbers of passing cars so it should not be dismissed as incorrect.
✗ artificial/lacks ecological validity as we do not usually have to learn nonsense syllables/lists of words on an everyday basis.
✗ most everyday events are easily remembered without rehearsal - it is more important to understand the meaning of information when trying to remember it.

Practical applications: car registrations/postcodes do not exceed the 7±2 chunks rule so people have a chance of remembering it by saying it over and over again.

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1.1.2: Reconstructive memory


  • Reconstructive memory: altering our recollection of things so that they make more sense to us.
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1.1.2: Bartlett

: to see if people, when given something unfamiliar to remember, will alter the information.
Method: 1. participants asked to read "The War of the Ghosts" (Native American legend).
2. were later asked to recall the story as accurately as possible.
3. the retelling was repeated several times over the following weeks.
Results: participants: (a) found it difficult to remember bits of the story that concerned spirits; (b) changed other bits so that it made more sense to them; (c) changed the story each time they recalled it.
Conclusion: memory is influenced by our own beliefs.

✗ difficult to measure the accuracy of stories told with a reliable scoring method.
✗ lacks ecological validity as the story is confusing and not similar to everyday experiences.

Practical applications: we must be careful when giving/listening to eyewitness accounts of events (e.g. crimes/accidents) as witnesses may think they're being accurate but in trying to make sense of what they saw, altered the facts. (It is possible for two people to recall the same event but have very different versions of the story.)

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1.1.2: Levels of processing


  • Levels of processing: the depth at which info. is thought about when trying to learn it.
  • Structural processing: thinking about the physical appearance of words to be learnt.
  • Phonetic processing: thinking about the sound of words to be learnt.
  • Sematic processing: thinking about the meaning of words to be learnt.
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1.1.2: Craik & Lockhart

: to see if the type of question asked about words will have an effect on the number of words recalled.
Method: 1. participants presented with a list of words, one at a time.
2. were then asked questions about each word and had to respond with either "yes" or "no".
3. questions either required structural, phonetic or semantic processing.
4. were then given a longer list of words and asked to identify original words.
Results: participants identified 70% of words that required semantic processing; 35% phonetic and 15% structural processing.
Conclusion: the more deeply info. is processed, the more likely it is remembered. 

✗ artificial/lacks ecological validity as real life memory tasks are not usually about learning lists of words and it took place in an artificial setting.
✗ high in demand characterisitics as participants knew they were being studied and may have therefore acted unnaturally, making the study less reliable.

Practical applications: writing down information in your own words whilst studying (which requires semantic processing) can help us recall afterwards.

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1.1.3: Forgetting - Interference


  • Interference: things we have learnt that make it difficult for us to recall other information we have learnt.
  • Retroactive interference: when new information hinders our ability to recall old information.
  • Proactive interference: when old information hinders our ability to recall new information.
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1.1.3: Underwood & Postman


Aim: to see if new learning interferes with previous learning.
Method: 1. participants were divided into 2 groups: 
a) group A asked to memorise a list of word pairs; then asked to memorise a second list of word pairs.
b) group B asked to memorise the first list of word pairs only.
2. both groups then asked to recall the first list of word pairs.
Results: group B's recall of the first list was more accurate than that of group A's.
Conclusion: new learning will cause people to recall previously learned info. less accurately. 

✗ artificial/lacks ecological validity as real life memory tasks are not usually about learning lists of words and it took place in an artificial setting.
✗ high in demand characterisitics as participants knew they were being studied and may have therefore acted unnaturally, making the study less reliable.

Practical applications: develop better study habits by avoiding studying 2 similar subjects (e.g. French and Spanish) during the same evening. Skills learned for one sport (e.g. Tennis) may interfere with learning skills for a different sport (e.g. Badminton). 

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1.1.3: Forgetting - Context


  • Context: the general setting or environment in which activities happen.
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1.1.3: Godden & Baddeley

: to see if people who learn and are tested in the same environment will recall more info. than those who learn and are tested in different environments.
Methods: 1. participants (deep-sea divers) were divided into 4 groups and given the same list of words to remember.
a) group 1 had to learn underwater & recall underwater.
b) group 2 had to learn underwaters & recall on shore.
c) group 3 had to learn on shore & recall on shore.
d) group 4 had to learn on shore & recall underwater.
Results: groups 1 and 3 recalled 40% more words than group 2 and 4.
Conclusion: recall of info. will be better if it occurs in the same context that learning takes place.

✗ artificial/lacks ecological validity as real life memory tasks are not usually about learning lists of words and it took place in an artificial setting.
✗ not generalisable as all participants were deep sea divers.

Practical applications: making your working environment resemble the environment in which you are tested may increase accuracy of recall in exams.

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1.1.3: Forgetting - Brain damage


  • Hippocampus: a brain structure that is crucial for memory.
  • Anterograde amnesia: being unable to learn new info. after suffering brain damage.
  • Retrograde amnesia: loss of memory for events that happened before brain damage occured. 


MILNER et al. (1957) 
1. a patient suffering from epilepsy had 2/3rd's of his hippocampus removed.
2. since the operation, he was unable to learn new info (anterograde amnesia).
3. this shows that the hippocampus is crucial for recording new memories.

1. a 22 y/o patient fell off his motorbike, banged his head and suffered a severe concussion.
2. x-rays showed no fracture of the skull.
3. however, he could not recall any events that occured 2 years prior to the accident (retrograde amnesia).

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1.1.4: Eyewitness testimonies


  • Reliability: in the context of eyewitness testimony, the extent to which it can be regarded as accurate.
  • Leading questions: a question that hints that a particular type of answer is required.
  • Cognitive interview: a method of questioning witnesses that involves recreating the context of an event.
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1.1.4: Loftus & Palmer

: to see if asking leading questions affect the accuracy of recall
Method: 1. participants shown films of car accidents.
2. some were asked "how fast was the car going when it hit the other car?"
3. others were asked "how fast was the car going when it smashed the other car?"
Results: those who heard "smashed" gave a higher speed estimate than those who heard "hit".
Conclusion: leading questions will reduce the accuracy of recall. (The word "smashed" led participants to believe the car was going faster.)

✗ watching a film is not the same as a real life experience.
✗ when watching a film you are prepared for something to happen but in real life you are not normally expecting something to happen so it takes you by surprise. 

Practical applications: when talking to witnesses, police and lawyers should avoid asking leading questions and should instead adopt a more neutral style of questioning.

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1.1.4: Bruce & Young

BRUCE & YOUNG (1998)
: to see if familiarity affects the accuracy of identifying faces.
Method: 1. psychology lecturers caught on security cameras at the entrance of a building.
2. participants asked to identify the faces seen on the security camera tape from a series of HQ photos.
Results: the lecturer's students made more correct identifications than other students & experienced police officers.
Conclusion: previous familiarity helps when identifying faces.

 demonstrates the limited value of security cameras when it comes to identifying someone.

Practical applications: we should realise that identity parades along may have limited use when trying to find a suspected criminal, especially when witnesses are asked to identify a stranger. (There needs to be other evidence as well.)

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