Memory schemas are selected, abstracted, interpreted, and integrated. Our point of view influences our
perception of situation (selection), we remember the gist of events in general (abstraction), our
interpretations of situations are stored in memory, and all of our stored bits of information are put
together into larger chunks of information (integrated).
Types of schemas:
Person schema: Schemas about people contain general information and beliefs that are consistent with
the traits of another person. We use them to help us understand and predict other people's behaviours.
Self schema: General information that we believe about ourselves. Person schemas and self schemas
can interact in very complex ways; for example, we can try to predict from person schemas what other
people think of us, which might in turn influence our own self schemas.
Scripts are a type of procedural knowledge that are abstracted from common events; they help us act
appropriately depending on the situations we are in. There are no specific memories associated with
scripts; rather, they are generic knowledge about what usually happens in various situations. We have,
for instance, expectations on what will happen in clubs, restaurants, the street, class, etc. There is much
research that supports the existence of scripts in our minds/memories, and that they are actively used
throughout our lives, even when we are very young. It has been shown that 3 year-olds have schemas,
for instance, of “eating dinner at home”.
Bower et al (1979) asked students to list about 20 activities in order of occurrence
In a study by Bransford and Johnson in 1972, people were presented with stories and were asked to
remember them. These “stories” made no apparent sense when they were read out of context. Three
conditions were put in place: the no context condition, the context before condition, and the context
after condition. People with no context recalled 3.6 out of 14 ideas, people who were told the context
before recalled 8 and people who were told about the context after recalled 3.6. Context helps recall
memories because they help us encode information more efficiently and deeply; the results show that
having the context after did not do much. Having the right schema when we are encoding events/stories
into memory helps us recall a lot more information than if we don't understand the situation/story (no
Schemas can also distort our memories. People in a study by Carhmichael et al (1932) on the effects of
labels on memory were presented with pictures that were ambiguous. Two groups were told different
things on what the pictures were (e.g. Sun vs. Ship's wheel); when recalling the pictures later, they
drew very different things depending on how they had labelled the pictures in their memory.
Yerkes-Dodson law. Emotions are linked to arousal, and an excess of arousal or a lack of arousal can
hinder our performance in daily tasks. We perform optimally at a moderate level of arousal, which
varies from person to person.
People who are depressed (low self esteem, sadness, feelings of inadequacy, etc.) were found to have
worst memory than people who are not depressed. The link between depression and memory was
studied both with people who have naturally occurring depression (clinical) and by inducing people
with depression/sadness through various techniques. Both types of studying of depression have
advantages and disadvantages. The more people showed intense symptoms of depression, the worst
their memories were. Mood induction techniques:
1) Velten procedure: people are asked to read a series of statements that suggest a mood and to
attempt to assume it.
2) Memory elicitation: people are asked to dwell on past experiences in which particular moods
One hypothesis of why memory is impaired in depressed people is that these individuals don't put effort
into allocating mental resources to tasks.Another idea is that people who are depressed have very
intense negative trains of thought, which limits the available resources that could otherwise be
allocated to memory (thinking too much would limit available resources). Finally, it has been suggested
that they are unwilling to perform tas