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7. PSY270 Everyday memory + Errors.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Kristie Dukewich

PSY.270 Ch.7 Everyday memories & memory errors 10/15/2012 1:12:00 PM Overview 1. Prospective memory: What I’m going to do later 2. Autobiographical memory: What has happened in my life 3. The constructive nature of memory 4. Memory can be modified or created by suggestion 5. Why do people make errors in eyewitness testimony? 1. Prospective memory: What I’m going to do later  To truly understand memory we need to consider how memory operates in the environment. When we do this, we find that we make many errors in memory and that these errors have something to tell us about the basic mechanisms of memory.  Prospective memory is remembering to perform intended actions. o Einstein and McDaniel showed that prospective memory is better when cues for remembering are distinctive.  Time-based prospective memory tasks (e.g. take pill every morning) are more difficult to remember than event-based tasks (e.g. brush your teeth every morning when you wake up).  A solution is to turn a time-based task into an event-based task. (E.g. place pill next to your toothbrush) 2. Autobiographical memory: What has happened in my life  Autobiographical memory has been defined as recollected events that belong to a person’s past. It can also be defined as episodic memory for events in our lives plus personal semantic memories of facts about our lives. o One’s personal stories of mental time travel  Field perspective vs. Observer perspective (how you remember it)  The multidimensional nature of autobiographical memory has been studied by showing that people who have lost their visual memory due to brain damage experience a loss of autobiographical memory (as visual stimuli are not available to serve as retrieval cues for memories) o Also supporting the multidimensional nature of autobiographical memory is Cabeza’s experiment, which showed that a person’s brain is more extensively activated when viewing photographs he or she took themselves than when viewing photographs taken by someone else.  When people are asked to remember events over their lifetime, transition points are particularly memorable. o Also, people over 40 tend to have a good memory for events they experiences from adolescence to early adulthood (the reminiscence bump).  The following hypotheses have been proposed to explain the reminiscence bump: o 1. Life-narrative (one’s “firsts” job, love, etc.) o 2. Cognitive (better encoding for periods of rapid change, e.g. change in your 20’s!) o 3. Cultural life script (when one’s life events fit their cultural script – what others are doing then too)  Brown & Kulik proposed the term flashbulb memory to refer to a person’s memory for the circumstances surrounding hearing about shocking, highly charged, important events. o They proposed that these flashbulb memories are vivid and detailed like photographs.  A number of experiments indicate that it is not accurate to equate flashbulb memories with photographs though, because as time passes, people make many errors when reporting flashbulb memories. o Talarico and Rubin’s study of peoples memory for when they first heard about the 9/11 terrorist attack indicates that memory errors increased with time, just as for other memories, but that people remained more confident of the accuracy of their 9/11 memory. 3. The constructive nature of memory  According to the constructivist approach to memory, what people report as memories are constructed by the person based on what actually happened plus additional factors such as the persons knowledge, experiences, and expectations. o Bartlett’s “war of the ghosts” experiment (repeated reproduction to remember the native Indian folk story, participants repeated/reconstructed it by explaining it in terms of their own culture) and the experiment in which students were asked to remember their high school grades (reporting A’s more than D’s – positive events remembered more, or memory of a good student is constructed based on their general experience of receiving grades in the past) both resulted in many memory errors.  These errors can be explained in terms of the constructive process of memory.  Construction via source monitoring o Source memory is the process of determining the origins
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