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Connie Boudens

PSYB57 – Chapter 7: Remembering Complex Events Memory Errors, Memory Gaps Memory Errors: Some Initial Examples  Prior knowledge and specific experience leads to accurate memory  Sometimes peoples’ recall is often in line with their expectations and not with reality o Participants were asked to sit in an office for several seconds and then asked what items an office contains. Prior knowledge tells us that offices contain a desk and chair. Participants answered this however, there were no books in shelves like they normally are in offices. Even though there were no books in the office, participants were biased by their expectations and claimed to have remembered seeing books Memory Errors: A Hypothesis  Within the network of interconnected nodes, there are no boundaries keeping memories of one episode separate from another episode  The density of connections holds together the various elements of episodes  As you add more and more links between episodes, you gradually knit episodes together and as a result you may lose the boundaries between the episodes and lose track of which bits of info are from what episode o You become vulnerable to transplant errors  As memory for an episode becomes more and more interwoven it becomes difficult to keep track of which elements are actually true and which are associated with the episode in your thoughts o This can also cause transplant errors Understanding both Helps and Hurts Memory  Memory connections help and hurt recollection o Help: they serve as retrieval paths o Hurt: make it difficult to see where episode stops and other knowledge begins  Connections encourage intrusion errors = errors in which other knowledge intrudes into the remembered event  A study shows that reading the prologue provides a meaningful context for the remainder of the story and helps to understand it as well and understanding in turn promotes recall  Reading the prologue also led participants to include many things in their recall that weren’t in the original story; they made 4X more intrusion errors as the participants that hadn’t read the prologue The DRM Procedure  Because of a certain theme uniting the list, participants can remember almost 90% of the words they encountered but they are just as likely to recall the list’s theme words even though it was not presented  This paradigm is called the DRM procedure in which participants make a large number of memory errors even after being warned about the procedure  The mechanisms leading to these memory errors are automatic and not mechanism that people can somehow inhibit Schematic Knowledge  Schemata summarize the broad pattern of what is normal in a situation  Schemata help when the time comes to recall how an event unfolded. This is because there are often gaps in you recollection  You will supplement what you actually remember with a plausible reconstruction based on your schematic knowledge and in most cases this after-the-fact reconstruction will be correct, since schemata do describe what happens most of the time Evidence for Schematic Knowledge  Schematic knowledge can hurt you by promoting errors in perception and memory  Any reliance on schematic knowledge will be shaped by this info about what is normal  If there are things you don’t notice while viewing a situation or event, your schemata will lead you to fill these gaps with knowledge about what is normally in place in that setting  A reliance on schemata will inevitably make the world seem more normal than it really is and will make the past seem more regular that it actually was  We have a tendency to regularize the past  In the experiment done by Brewer and Treyens about the books in the office, a schematic error was produced when the participants “remembered” to have seen books in the office when there really weren’t any and they were just biased by their schematic knowledge The Cost of Memory Errors  Memory errors in eyewitness testimonies can potentially send an incorrect person to jail and allow a guilty person to go free  Eyewitness errors account for 3/4s of false convictions Planting False Memories  Witnesses asked how fast cars were going when they “hit” each other reported on average a speed of 34 mph. other witnesses, asked how fast the cars were going when they “smashed” into each other, gave estimates 20% higher.  When all the participants were later asked whether they had seen broken glass in the scene, participants who has been asked the “smashed” question were more likely to say “yes” although there was no broken glass  Substantial number of participants end up incorporating false suggestions into their memory for the original event  It is easier to plant plausible memories rather than implausible ones  False memories are more easily planted if the research participants don’t just hear about the false event but are urged to imagine how the event unfolded (imagination inflation) Are There Limits on the Misinformation Effect?  Misinformation effect = participants’ memories are being influenced by misinformation they received after an episode was over  In a study, participants were shown faked photos created from a real childhood photo and many participants were led to a vivid detailed recollection of the happenings in the faked photo even though it never occurred  Children are more vulnerable than adults to memory planting  We can remember entire events that never took place and even emotional episodes that never happened. You can remember your own transgressions even when they never occurred Avoiding Memory Errors Memory Confidence  Confident recall is likely to be accurate recall  In many circumstances, there is little relationship between memory confidence and memory accuracy and any attempt to categorize memories as correct or incorrect based on someone’s confidence will therefore be riddled with errors  Our confidence in a memory is often influenced by factors that have no impact on memory accuracy and so when these factors are present, confidence will change with no change in the accuracy level, undermining any correspondence between confidence and accuracy  In one study, participants first tried to identify a culprit from a police lineup and then indicated their level of confidence in their selection. Some participants were given no feedback about their choice, others were given feedback after they had made their selection but before their indicated their confidence. o This feedback couldn’t possibly influence accuracy but dramatically increased confidence  With confidence inflated but accuracy unchanged, the linkage between confidence and accuracy was diminished The “Remember/Know” Distinction  We could use the degree of emotion as a way of distinguishing accurate memories from false ones but this too turns out to be a dead end  False memories that never happened can be just as upsetting as memories for real events  Feelings of remembering are more likely with correct memories than with false memories o False memories often arrive with only a general sense of familiarity and no recollection of a particular episode  Distinction between knowing and remembering cannot serve as a reliable means of distinguishing correct memories from false ones  There is no indicator that can reliably guide us in deciding which memories to trust and which not  Memory errors are usually undetectable Forgetting The Causes of Forgetting  Best predictors of forgetting is the passage of time  Retention interval = amount of time that elapses between the initial learning and the subsequent retrieval o As this interval grows you are more likely to forget more and more of the earlier event  With the passage of time, memories may decay or erode/fade because the relevant brain cells die off or the connections among the memories become need to be constantly refreshed or the connections will weaken  New learning may interfere with older learning = interference theory o Passage of time is correlated with forgetting bu
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