Unit 1 Memory - Key Studies

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Underwood & Postman -1960

AIM: To set the retroactive theory in an experimental set up

METHOD: Pps were given a list of pairs of words to learn ( i.e book-tractor, cat-tree). A controll group was given the first list as well as a second list to learn. The first word in both lists wer the same but the second woed was not. Boht froups were then asked to recall the first list.

RESULTS: The first group recalles more words accurately than the second group.

CONCLUSION: The second group was more accurate as interference affected their recall. This suggests that learning the irems in the second list interefered with the participants ability to recall information.

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Godden & Baddley -1975

AIM:To see if participants who learn and are tested in the same enviroment recall more info than participants who learn and are tested in different enviroments.

METHOD: Pps were deep sea divers and were split into 4 groups and were fiven the same list of words to learn.

      -Group 1: learn underwater & recall underwater                  - Group 2: learn undrwater, recall on shore               -Group 3: Learn on shore & learn on shore                          - Group 4: learn on shore , recall underwater

RESULTS: Group 1+3 were 40% more accurate than group 2=4 

CONCLUSION: Recall of information is better if it happens in the same cntext it is learnt.

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

METHOD: A participant was asked to read 'War of th Ghosts' and asked to remeber it. They were then told to recall the story to a secon participant. The second participant was asked to recall it to the 3rd & so on.

RESULTS: Bits of the sotry concerning pirits was changed and some bits were forgotten

CONCLUSION:Memory is altered by our own beliefs


-It lacks temporal validity as it was done over 60 years ago

+ It helps us understand why we remeber some things easier than others (our beliefs)

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Peterson & Peterson

AIM: To see if rehersal is necessary to hold information in the STM

METHOD: Participants were shown 3 letter words (i.e WKG, THY) and were asked to remeber them. Immediately, they were then asked to count backwards in 3s from 100 for different lengths of time. They were then asked to recall the trigrams in the correct order.

RESULTS: It was found that virtually all the information was forgotten after 18 seconds.

CONCLUSION: Rehearsal is necessary to hold informmation in the STM (duration is around 18 seconds)


-Nonsense syllables are not the type of memory tasks in real life therefore it lacks mundane realism

-It was a lab study therefore it lacks ecological calidity as there was hihc control over the variables

+It helps us understands why postcded and our car number plate never exceeds 7 chuncs of information (capacity of STM)

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Craik & Lockart

AIM:To see if the type of question asked has an effect on the number of words recalled

METHOD:Pps were given a list of words and ere asked to answer 'yes' or 'no' to questions about the words. Some Q's required semantic processing & some phonetic and some structural. They were then asked to recall the words.

RESULTS: 70% of the semantic words were recalled, 35% of the phonetic and 15% of the structural.

CONCLUSION: The deeper you process information, the easier you remember it.

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Loftus & Palmer

AIM:To see fi leading questions affect the accuracy of an eyewitness' immediate recall

METHOD: pps watch 7 different films of traffic accidents. After, they were asked 'about how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?' One group was given this question. The other groups were given the same question but the verb 'hit' was replaced by either smashed, bumped , collided or contacted.

RESULTS: The mean speed was calculated for each group. The verb 'smashed' has the highest whilst the verb 'contacted' had the lowest average speed.

CONCLUSION: The type of quesetioning can have significant effect on the accuracy of an eyewitness' answer.


- Police don't just use EWT to find the answer to a crime.

+ Practical implication-When questioning witness', police should develop a neutral form of questioning

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Bruce & Young

AIM:To see if see if familiarity affects the accuracy of identifying faces

METHOD:Students were asked to identify lecturers' from pictures from a security tape

RESULTS:The student recognised their lecturers more than other students

CONCLSION:Familiarity helps when identifying faces

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