Psychology Cognitive Approach - Loftus & Palmer

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  • Created by: Kaylee
  • Created on: 09-03-13 22:26


Loftus & Palmer (1974)


Memory can be defined as the retention of learning or experience. Elizabeth Loftus has investigated the accuracy of eyewitness testimoney through numerous studies. She has demonstrated through the use of leading questions and how it is possible to distort a persons memory of an event. 


To investigate the effect of leading questions on eyewitness accounts and also the effect that leading questions might have on later memory for what happened

Method (Experiment 1)

Participants: 45 students from the University of Washington.

  Each shown 7 film clips of traffic accidents - ranged from 5 to 30 seconds long. After  watching each clip, the students were asked to write an account of they accident they had  just seen. They then answered some questions including the critical leading question.

There were 5 conditions which each included 9 participants. The independent variable was manipulated by the wording of the questions. 

  • Condition 1: "About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?"
  • Condition 2: "About how fast were the cars going when they collided into each other?"
  • Condition 3: "About how fast were the cars going when they bumped into each other?"
  • Condition 4: "About how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?"
  • Condition 5: "About how fast were the cars going when they contacted each other?"

The experiment lasted about an 1.5 hours and a different ordering of the films was shown to each group of participants. The dependent variable was the speed estimates given by the participants.

Results (Experiment 1)

Speed estimates for the verbs used in the estimation of speed question (mph)


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