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PSYC*2650 Ch 7.doc

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University of Guelph
PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

Monday, Feb 18, 2012 Chapter 7: Remembering Complex Events - research participants so far have been asked to memorize word lists or short sen- tences - in our daily lives we encounter much more complex materials involving many actions and many players and these episodes are integrated into the fabric of our lives - first we’ll consider some of the errors that can arise when people try to remember episodes that are related to other things they know and have experienced - second we’ll consider some of the factors that are directly pertinent to memory as it functions in day-to-day life e.g. emotion, time Memory Errors, Memory Gaps - sometimes when you try to remember an episode you simply draw a blank - sometimes you recall a past episode but your memory is mistaken Memory Errors: Some Initial Examples - in 1992, in Amsterdam, a cargo plane lost power and crashed into an apartment build- ing - 10 months later, researchers questioned 193 people about the crime asking them if they saw the film of the plane crash, more than half (107) said yes even though there was no film shown on television - in a follow-up with 93 people they were asked more detailed questions, 2/3 remem- bered seeing the film and most confidently provided details - perhaps these errors emerged because the participants were trying to remember something that had taken place almost a year earlier - in another study, participants were asked to wait briefly in the experimenter’s office pri- or to the procedure’s start, after 35 seconds they were taken out of this office and told there was actually no experimental procedure, the study was concerned with their mem- ory for the room in which they had just been sitting - the participants’ recollection of the office was influenced by their prior knowledge - 29/30 participants correctly remembered that there was a desk and a chair (in advance they would know that academic offices usually contain these) - participants’ recall was often in line their their expectations and not with reality - 1/3 of them remembered seeing books when there was none Memory Errors: A Hypothesis Monday, Feb 18, 2012 - in all cases, memory errors involve the same simple mechanism - with the connections discussion before, information stored in memory in a system looks like a vast spider web, with each bit of information connected by many threads to other bits of information elsewhere - within the spider web, there are no clear boundaries keeping the contents of ow mem- ory separate form the contents of other memories - the density of connections means there are many connections linking the various as- pects of your “trip to the beach” to each other and fewer connections linking this event to other events - the more connections there are, the easier it is to find the information you seek - the same connections can also create problems for you, as you add links between the bits of this episode and the bits of that episode, you are gradually knitting these 2 episodes together - it becomes easy to lose track of which bits of information were contained within which episode - you may become vulnerable to “transplant” errors where a bit of information encoun- tered in one context is transplanted into another context - transplant errors can also occur as elements that were part of your thinking get misre- membered as if they were actually part of the original experience Understanding Both Helps and Hurts Memory - the creation of connections both helps and hurts memory Intrusion Errors - errors in which other knowledge intrudes into the remembered event - in a study, half of the participants read a long passage about nancy at a party, the rest of them rest the same passage but with a prologue that nancy was possibly pregnant and was thinking of telling the professor she had been seeing - all participants were given a recall test and were asked to remember sentences as ex- actly as they could - participants who had read the prologue recalled much more of the original story be- cause it provided a meaningful context which helped understanding - understanding promoted recall - the story’s prologue also led participants to include many things in their recall that were not mentioned in the original episode - made 4x as many intrusion errors The DRM Procedure Monday, Feb 18, 2012 - similar effects can be demonstrated with word lists, provided the lists are arranged so that they make appropriate contact with prior knowledge - e.g. a list with words best, rest awake, tired, snooze, all of them area associated with the word “sleep” and the presence of this theme helps memory - sleep itself is not itself included in the list but participants make the connection and are extremely likely to recall that they heard sleep Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) Procedure - this paradigm, a very simple task leading to large number of memory errors - even with warnings, participants still make DRM errors - the mechanisms leading to these memory errors are quite automatic and not able to be inhibited Semantic Knowledge - in the DRM procedure, intrusion errors come from words or ideas merely associated with the materials being learned - in other settings, intrusion errors come form background knowledge that we bring to most situations - this knowledge is usually helpful but can also be a source of error Generic Knowledge - knowledge about how things unfold in general and knowledge about what’s typical in a particular sort of settings, this knowledge is often referred to by the word Schema (plural Schemata) - schemata summarize the broad pattern of what’s normal in a situation e.g. a kitchen is likely to have a stove in it but not a piano - schemata help in a variety of ways e.g. you’re not confused when someone keeps fill- ing your water at a restaurant - they also help when the time comes to recall the event, they fill in the gaps - even if you don’t remember the menus, you can be sure there were menus - you’ll supplement what you actually remember with a plausible reconstruction based on your schematic knowledge - in most cases this reconstruction will be correct, since schemata describe what hap- pens most of the time Evidence for Schematic Knowledge - the types of errors produced by schemata will be quite predictable - reliance on schematic knowledge will be shaped by information about what’s normal, making the world seem more normal than it really is Monday, Feb 18, 2012 - Frederick Bartlett presented his participants with stories taken from the folklore of Na- tive Americans, when tested later participants did reasonably well in recalling the gist of the stories but made many errors in recalling the particulars - often the details of the original story were omitted from their recall and other details were added or changed - the pattern of errors was quite systematic, details omitted tended to be ones that made little sense to the British participants and they were changed into aspects that were more familiar - their memories seem to have cleaned up the story making it more coherent rom their perspective - the study at the beginning of the chapter where participants reported seeing book- shelves in the office when there were none is the result of schematic knowledge Planting False Memories - it is unsettling that the memories we’re relying on may be wrong and mistakes seem surprisingly frequent - memory errors can be deeply consequences (eyewitness testimony) - Loftus and Palmer showed participants a series of projected slides depicting an auto- mobile collision - half were asked “how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?”, the other have were asked “how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” - participants in the first group estimated the speed to have been 34 miles per hours, participants in the second group estimated 41 miles per hour - on week later they were asked in a perfectly neutral way whether they had been any broken glass in the slides - participants in the first group said no glass was visible (14%), participants in the sec- ond group were likely to remember class (32%) - in this and other studies like this, the participant experiences an event and then is ex- posed to a misleading suggestion about how the event unfolded, then some time is al- lowed to pass and at the end their memory is tested - in each of these studies, the outcome is the same: a substantial number of participants end up incorporating the false suggestion into their memory for the original event - similar procedures have altered how people err remembered Are There Limits of the Misinformation Effect? - the pattern of results just described is referred to as the Misinformation Effect Monday, Feb 18, 2012 - misinformation can change details about how an event is remembered, and can add whole objects to memory - it can also create memories for entire episodes that never happened at all - in a study, students were told investigators were trying to learn how different people re- member the same experience, students were given a list of events that they were told had been reported their their parents - the students were asked to recall these events as well as they could - some of the events had been reported by the participants’ parent but others were made up by the experimenters, one was an overnight hospitalization for a high fever - the students easily remembered the genuine events - in an initial interview, more than 80% of the events were recalled, in a second interview this number climbed to almost 90% - by the third interview, 25% of the participants were able to remember a fictitious event and supply details about it - the same sort of results have been documented with children, evidence suggests that children are more vulnerable than adults to this sort of memory “planting” - in a study many children confidently remembered fictitious elements they had dis- cussed with their parents - entire events can be planted in someone’s memory so that the person ends up recall- ing - confidently and in detail - an episode that never took place - it seems relatively easy to plant these memories (2 or 3 interviews) - no coercion is needed - of course, it is easier to plant plausible memories than implausible ones - it is easier to plant a memory is the false suggestion is repeated - false memories are more easily planted if the research participants don’t just hear about the false event but are urged to imagine how it unfolded (imagination inflation) - some individuals are more susceptible than others to false memories - the basic points: false memories can easily be planted through a variety of procedures, and the memory errors thus created can be large (entire events), once the false memo- ries are planted, the target “events” seem to be “remembered” fully and in detail Avoiding Memory Errors - some memory errors arise because our memory for an event is connected to a schema and this creates the risk that elements from this generic knowledge will intrude our recollection of the target episode Monday, Feb 18, 2012 - other errors arise because an episode triggers certain thoughts which are not connect- ed to the target memory and can intrude into the recall - other error arise because different episodes get linked together in memory, allowing el- ements of one episode to intrude into the other - how often to memory errors occur in day-to-day life? Can we say more about when the errors will occurs? Is there any way to detect the errors when they do occur? Accurate Memories - in some settings memory errors are quite likely and in others they aren’t - the overall pattern of evidence suggests that in our daily lives we usually can trust our memories, more often than not, our recollection is complete, long-lasting and correct - Guile and Cutshall interviewed witnesses to an actual crime 4-5 months after the event - witnesses’ memory for the crime was impressively accurate despite this delay - witnesses were correct in 83% of the details reported about the action itself and 90% correct in their descriptions of objects on the scene The Importance of the Retention Interval - one of the key factors to shaping when memory is accurate is the presence of some source of intrusions into the memory - this source can be generic knowledge, misinformation or a related episode - another crucial factor is the passage of time - as the Retention Interval (amount of time that elapses between the initial learning and subsequent retrieval) grows, you will gradually forget more and you’re forced to rely more on after-the-fact reconstruction to “plug” these gaps in the memory record - as you forget the details of an episode, it will become more difficult to distinguish which elements were actually part of the event and which were merely associated with the event in your thoughts - as time goes by, you will have more difficulty in Source Monitoring (remembering the source of the various ideas that are associated with an event in your thoughts) - why does the passage of time matter? - one possibility is Decay - with the passage of time memories fade or erode - another possibility is Interference - new learning interferes with older learning - a third possibility is Retrieval Failure - retrieval is best if you are in the same mental and physical perspective as the time of learning, over time your perspective changes, therefore increasing the likelihood of retrieval failure - all three of these are correct Monday, Feb 18, 2012 - interference is more prominent than decay as the source of ordinary forgetting - why does memory interference occurs? - new information can cause difficulties in retrieving old memories, so interference can produce its own version of retrieval failure - newly arriving information often gets interwoven with older information - new information seems in some cases literally to replace old information Destructive Updating - the new information does not merely blur the old memory or mak
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