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PSYC 2650

Cognitive Psych - Chapter 7 - In this chapter we consider some of the errors that can arise when people try to remember episodes that are related to other things they know and have experiences. We also consider some of the factors that are directly pertinent to memory as it functions in day to day life. Memory Errors An example of a memory error: Researchers interview nearly 200 people in Amsterdam several months after a plane crash in the city When asked if they had seen footage of the plane crash on television, over half of the participants reported that they had However, no such film exists In later follow-ups, many participants confidently provided details about the crash Similar effects are observed under experimental conditions Brewer & Treyens (1981) found that participants who had been asked to wait in an office recalled seeing books and other typical items found in an office, even though these items had not been present A hypothesis regarding memory errors: Memory connections link each bit of knowledge in memory to other bits of knowledge There are no clear boundaries separating the contents of one memory from others This organization plays a helpful role during memory retrieval However, it can be difficult to separate memory for a particular episode with associated knowledge in memory The observation of intrusion errors - errors in which other knowledge intrudes into the remembered event - supports this hypothesis As an example of intrusion errors, when reading a story we may believe that propositions we inferred while reading the story were actually presented in the story itself (Owens et al., 1979) --> Participants asked to read a story. Some participants were given a prologue that offered more understandings as they read the story. In the other, participants read the story without the prologue. --> People who read the prologue were able to recall more things that actually happened in the story --> However, they also had 4x more errors of stating that inferred propositions were actually in the story The Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) procedure is also used to demonstrate intrusion errors. If a list such as “bed, rest, awake, tired, dream, snooze...” is presented, participants are likely to recall having studied the word “sleep”, even though it was not on the list --> List itself established connections, which helps memory with these words but leads to errors. Other intrusions are due to schematic knowledge A schema refers to knowledge that describes what is typical or frequent in a given situation Schemata can help us when remembering an event For instance, remember the last time you went to a restaurant Your schema of a restaurant includes the script of events that typically occur (ex. being given a menu) This general knowledge may be helpful in reconstructing your memory of this particular event [will most often be correct] However, schemata can also cause us to make errors when remembering events for instance, imagine that you visit a dentist’s office where there are no magazines in the waiting room Your schema of a dentist office probably does include a waiting room with magazines This general knowledge may cause you to regularize your memory o this event and “remember” magazines that were not there A classic Demonstration of the effects of schemata on memory was provided by Frederick Bartlett (1932) Stories taken from Native American folklore were presented to British participants The gists of these stories were recalled correctly, but details were altered in memory Details that did not make sense were left out to make the story fit better with the participants’ background knowledge -> Their schemata were inferring with what they actually heard The regularization of memories by schemata may explain the other memory errors we have discussed --> Books are remembered in an office because books are part of our schematic knowledge of offices --> Footage of a plane crash is remembered because major news events are often seen through television footage Another line of research has investigated the misinformation effect The participant experiences an event and is exposed to misleading information about how it unfolded Some time is allowed to pass On a later memory test, a substantial number of participants have incorporated the misleading information into their memory -> Questioning can influence your perception of a crime In one study, participants viewed a series of slides depicting a car accident Some participants were asked, “How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?” and others were asked, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” Other studies have shown that false autobiographical memories can be implanted, such as participants believing they had become ill eating egg salad as children In certain cases, entire events can be planted into someone’s memory, so that the person recalls - confidently and in detail - an event that never took place Having been hospitalized overnight for a high fever Having spilled a bowl of punch at a wedding Having been lost at a shopping mall Avoiding Memory Errors Other studies have demonstrated cases in which memories were surprisingly accurate What factors determine whether a memory will be accurate or subject to errors? -> Generic knowledge, misinformation received after the event, repeated exposure A major factor is the retention interval - the amount of time that elapsed between initial learning and subsequent retrieval With an increased retention interval more of the original event is forgotten and has to be reconstructed with schematic knowledge -> As time goes by, more gaps. Generic knowledge fills in the gaps This creates problems of source monitoring - which parts of the memory actually occurred and which parts are associated knowledge Three hypotheses for why memories weaken with time: Decay - memories fade of erode - Not inevitable, some memories keep kicking around Interference - never learning my disrupt older memories A concept related to interference is destructive updating - when new learning on a topic replaces old knowledge in memory, so that the old information is destroyed by newer input -> Retrieval Failure - the memory is intact but cannot be accessed Haven’t “found the right path” Don’t have the right retrieval cues There is some truth to all three hypotheses. - Contrary to popular belief, hypnosis does not help people recover lost memories - hypnosis does make people more open to suggestion and more
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