Role of Emotion in Memory

What is a flashbulb memory?
Brown & Kulik (1977) first came up with the term flashbulb memory, to describe a vivid and long-lasting memory surrounding a person's discovery of a shocking event
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What can cause a flashbulb memory?
a release of hormones at the time of high emotion, or increased rehearsal of the memory
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Cahill & McGaugh (1998)
hormones are released at times of high emotion- arousal helps the person respond to the situation- enhanced memory is an adaptive behaviour, helps person when in a similar situation again
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Cahill and McGaugh (1995)
found that when rats are injected with adrenaline, their recall is better- however this is not generalisable to the human population
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Neisser (1982)
after a shocking event memories are shared and therefore rehearsed, the more rehearsal the better the memory e.g. if you were injured you'd recall the event to several people
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How accurate are flashbulb memories?
no real way of testing them- just because there is a lot of detail the memory does not mean that it is correct
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Wright (1993)
asked people about the Hillsborough disaster 1989- found that five months after the event peoples memories became vague and had a lot of biases- suggests that flashbulb memories don't exist, same as normal ones which can be altered too
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Mcloskey et al (1988)
similar experiment to Wright but used the space shuttle challenger explosion- found that some elements of the memory had been forgotten and there were also some errors in recall after 9 months
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Conway et al (1994) on Mcloskey
said the the space shuttle was not a good example because it didn't have personal significance to the participants
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Conway et al (1994)
used Thatcher's resignation on people in the UK- found that 11 months after the event 86% ppts still had a good recall and a flashbulb memory- proves that flashbulb memories do exist when the event is significant to you
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What is Freud's theory of repression?
repress traumatic memories so that they are locked out of the conscious and stored in the unconscious- ego defence mechanism stops the individual from any excess worrying or anxiety
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Williams (1994)
asked 206 women about their admittance to hospital following a sexual assault 20 yrs ago- found that 38% couldn't remember ever being treated and 16% said that they remembered now but didn't before
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Karon & Widener (1997)
talked to WWII veterans who had repressed traumatic events- found that when they recalled the traumatic memories in therapy, all of the psychological issues the men had been suffering from disappeared
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Loftus & Burns (1982)
lab experiment- both groups watched a video of a bank robbery- one group the violent version (little boy shot in face) CG= less violent- found that those in group 1 had poorer recall proving that more emotion causes impaired memory
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Loftus and Pickrell (1995)
showed that it was possible to plant false memories in ppts about getting lost in the mall as a child
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Antikainen et al (2001)
tested ppts who suffered with major depression who had impairments in their memory- after treating their depression he found that there was an improvement in their memory
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What three reasons are there as to why there is a relationship between depression and memory?
depression makes people have low motivation and attention, so the memory might not have been encoded, shrinking of the hippocampus (in women) & negative recall bias- can only remember negative memories
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What is mood dependant memory?
an individual can remember better when they're in the same state of mind e.g. when you're happy you remember positive things
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What did Eich et al (1994) say?
asked ppts to read 16 words and they had to describe a sad or happy memory associated with that word- after 2 days they were asked to imagine being in a sad or happy mood and then recall the words, people asked to be in a sad mood remembered more sad
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Evaluate Eich et al's study.
lab experiment- lacks ecological validity, only asked to imagine
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What can cause a flashbulb memory?


a release of hormones at the time of high emotion, or increased rehearsal of the memory

Card 3


Cahill & McGaugh (1998)


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Card 4


Cahill and McGaugh (1995)


Preview of the front of card 4

Card 5


Neisser (1982)


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