Pickel's Study and how it applies to real life

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Pickel's study

Describe-experiment 1:

  • 230 psychology students were split into 5 groups of 46. All the participants watched a video recording of a crime taking place in a hairdressers (Links to EV- lab study)
  • On the video, the participants saw the outside of the hairdressers, before moving inside and seeing a female receptionist sat behind a desk, when a man came in, asked the receptionist for money, recieved it, left the building and got away in a car.

The man was either holding one of five objects:

  • Raw Chicken
  • Gun
  • Scissors
  • Wallet
  • Nothing

Participants completed a filler test for 10 minutes before being asked to recall details of both the receptionist and the man. The average number of details recalled were as follows

  • Raw chicken- 7.21
  • Handgun- 7.83
  • scissors- 8.14
  • wallet- 8.53
  • nothing- 9.02

Both the handgun and the raw chicken led to poorer recall, which could be seen as high threat and high unsuualness producing low recall. The unusualness was shown to be the biggest factor in causing poor recall here. When you compare the scissors and the handgun there is a difference though, indicating that threat alone cannot produce poor memories- if an object is not out of context that we are less likely to be distracted by it.

Describe-experiment 2:

  • This experiment was done to check the validity of the previous one. This time 256 participants were used and watched the same video, apart from it was set in an electrical repair shop rather than a hairdressers.

The man who came in and took the money was again holding one of five things:

  • A large screwdriver in a stabbing position
  • Butcher's knife/ meat cleaver
  • A pair of sunglasses
  • A pilsbury doughboy
  • Nothing

Presumably participants agin completed a filler test and then were asked to recall details about the man, and whoever else was present to be a control( like the receptionist). The average number of details recalled was as follows:

  • Pilsbury Doguhboy- 6.55
  • Screwdriver-7.00
  • Knife 6.71
  • sunglasses- 7.82
  • nothing- 8.36

Findings from this experiment replicated the first- with the unusual object leading to the poorest recall. Purposefully, Pickel also made the in context item- the screwdriver- be threatening this time.


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