PSYB57H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 7: Autobiographical Memory, Self-Reference

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10 Apr 2012
Memory Errors: Some Initial Examples
In 1992, an El Cargo plan lost power and crashed into a building killing 43 people in Amsterdam.
Researchers, 10 months later, questions 193 Dutch people about the cash if they “seen the television
film of the moment the plane hit the apartment building?” - more than half the participants (107) people
reported seeing the film even though there was no such film; the participants were remembering
something that didn‟t happen.
in a follow up study they surveyed another 93 people about the crash and if they saw the (nonexistent)
film and going into more depth about the questions. 2/3 of these participants remembered seeing the
film and most of them confidently discussed details of the crash. - was this bc they were emotional?
Is memory more accurate when the questions come after a shorter delay?
Brewer and Treyens: participants were asked to wait briefly in the experimenter‟s office prior to the
procedures start. After 35 seconds they were taken out of this office and told that they were actually
going to be testing their memory and what was in the office.
B.c they were in an office, they said they saw a chair and desk - their recall was often in line w/
their expectations and not w/ reality. H.w they also said they saw books on the shelves...when
actually there were none. How could this be?
Memory Errors: A Hypothesis
errors can arise during your initial exposure to the episode to be remembered, and continuing through
the moment of recall.
all errors involve = memory connections
all these connections form a memory system containing info that looks much like a spider web
e/ bit of info connected by many threads to other bits of info elsewhere in the web
there are no clear boundaries here though to separate info and memory
What holds these elements together? = density of connections
Advantages of memory connections:
crucial in memory retrieval
the more connections you have the easier it will be to find the info you seek
Disadvantages of memory connections:
as you add links, you are gradually knitting more episodes together
becomes easy to lose track of which bits of info we contained within a specific episode
making you vulnerable to “transplant” errors in which a bit of info encountered in one
context is transplanted into another context
Understanding Both Helps and Hurt Memory
Help memory: the connections, in their role as retrieval paths, make it easier to locate info
Hurt memory: they can make it difficult to see where the remembered episode stops and other, related
knowledge begins
connections encourage intrusion errors-errors in which other knowledge intrudes into the remembered
in a study, results showed that participants that had a prologue (abstract) before the actual story actually
recalled more; this prologue provides a meaningful context for the remainder of the story and has
helped for understanding.
understanding= promoted recall
However, those same participants led them to include many things in their recall that were not
mentioned in the original recall. they made 4 times as many intrusion errors then those who did not get
the prologue
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The DRM Procedure
Deese Roediger McDermott (DRM) procedure - a commonly used experimental procedure for
eliciting and studying memory errors. In this procedure, a person sees or hears a list of words that are
related to a single theme; however the word that names the theme s not itself included. Nonetheless, ppl
are very likely to remember later that the theme word was presented.
example: participants are given this list “bed, rest, wake, tired, dream, snooze, blanket, slumber,
snore, nap, peace, yawn, drowsy
all of this relates to the theme SLEEP, but notice how it isnt in the list itself? When asked
participants to recall the words on the list, they mention sleep being in it, even though it isnt.
this displays how a simple task leads to many memory errors!
mechanisms leading to these memory errors are
Schematic Knowledge
in the DRM procedure, intrusion errors come from words (or ideas) merely associated w/ the materials
being learning.
in other settings, intrusion errors come from the background knowledge that we bring in to most
situations = h/w this can also be a source of memory error
generic knowledge- knowledge about how things unfold in general, and knowledge about what‟s
typical in a particular sort of setting
this is also referred to the Greek word schema- summarize the broad pattern of what‟s normal in a
situation. i.e a “kitchen schema” would stipulate a stove, fridge…piano would not be here!
schemata tells you what is normal in some occurrences and what isn't; it also helps when the
time comes to recall an event i.e. to fill in the gaps of missing info by supplementing what you
actually remember w/ a plausible reconstruction based on your schematic knowledge.
Evidence for Schematic Knowledge
schemata helps us by guiding our understanding and allowing us to reconstruct things we cannot
remember; but we can also be prone to errors in both our perception and memory
schemata summarize the broad pattern for our experience, and so schema tell us what‟s „typical‟ or
„ordinary‟ in a given situation
as a result, a reliance on schemata will inevitably make the world seem more “normal” than it really is
and will make the past seem more “regular” than it actually was
the tendency towards „regularizing‟ the past is demonstrated by Frederick Bartlett
he presented his participants w/ stories of Native Americans. When tested later, the participants did
reasonably well in recalling the gist of the stories, but they made many errors in recalling the
the pattern of error was systematic:
the details omitted tended to be ones that made little sense to Bartlett‟s British participants.
Likewise, aspects of the story that were unfamiliar were changed into aspects that were more
familiar; steps of the story that seemed inexplicable were supplemented to make the story seem
more logical
Overall in this study participants memory tended to „clean up‟ the story making it more
coherent, more sensible than it first seemed
elements that did not fit dropped out of memory or were changed
thus the past seems to have been assimilated into the pattern of the ordinary
Planting False Memories
positives of memory connections:
serve as retrieval paths
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