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Lecture 15

PSYC 2650 Lecture Notes - Lecture 15: Prototype Theory, Dermatology, Central Tendency

Course Code
PSYC 2650
Dan Meegan

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Thursday, October 30 2012
PSYC 2650
Lecture 15
This Thursday
This lecture will not be a full lecture, but rather a public forum
Come prepared with questions that you need answering
Dr. Meegan will answer any questions
Will bring in video footage from lectures that will be included on the midterm exam
Flashbulb Memories
Memories of extraordinary clarity, typically for highly emotional events, retained despite the
passage of many years
Memories that seem different to us than other memories (subjectively feel different)
Scientists have heard anecdotal evidence of this phenomenon, and have wondered whether
these are really a different category of memory
A memory is created and after many many years, recalling that event is still incredibly vivid and
'realistic' feeling
It doesn't feel faded or frayed in any way, which is different from the normal experience of
These memories are unique in a number ways
Involve heightened emotional arousal
In order to verify flashbulb memories, we have to wait until the time of the event occurring in
order to record original information (to verify the original facts that people are claiming to
First time it was discussed in the public was in the years that followed the JFK assassination
Space shuttle challenger explosion
O.J. Verdict
Princess Diana's death
1989 San Francisco earthquake
Margaret Thatcher resignation
September 11, 2001
These events are all uniquely important to many individuals and, therefor, are likely to produce
flashbulb memories
Controversy over accuracy: 2 studies of Challenger explosion
Do flashbulb memories offer unique accuracy over regular memories held in the mind for
similar periods of time
One day after, then 3 years later: little agreement between immediate and delayed reports
We assume that the day after, memories are fairly reliable and accurate
Evidence that the memories had decayed normally
Immediately after, then 9 months later:
many errors were committed but:
81% accuracy from where they were

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78% accuracy for who they heard the news from
Fall 2001 September
First class was September 11 at 1:00 pm
First day of the semester
Memory assessed after 4 days
100% accuracy
Terrorist Attack on US
Write a detailed account of the circumstances surrounding your first hearing the news,
Where you were
44 days (terrorist attack): 100% accuracy
9 months (Shuttle explosion): max 70-80% accuracy
3 years (Shuttle explosion): low accuracy
These experiments seem to follow Ebbinghaus's typical forgetting function
This data suggests that there is nothing unique about flashbulb memories
If the event has a direct impact on one's life, then it may induce a flashbulb memory
Are flashbulb memories similar to personal trauma memories?
They are different because of the scope of their impact (flashbulb memories tend to be of
societally significant events)
We believe that the same mechanisms are at play – lingering, lasting memories that are
particularly vivid and clear
High emotional arousal allows us to learn from situations that caused that arousal in the past
Are flashbulb memories different for those individuals more directly impacted by the event?
Yes, the more emotional arousal you have, the stronger the flashbulb memory
Concepts and Categorization
Conceptual knowledge discussion
How are Concepts Represented?
Classical view: concepts as definitions
How do you know that that particular thing shown to you is a dog?
Intuitive view:
You have definitions of each terms
When you look at something, you compare it to your definitions and search for a match
Similar to templates that you can compare to presented patterns
Concept: DOG
Creature that:
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