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Chapter 7

Textbook PSYB57 - Chapter 7.docx

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dwayne Pare

PSYB57: Memory and Cognition Chapter 7: Remembering Complex Events Memory Errors: Some Initial Examples  El Al cargo place lost power and crashed into a building o 10 months later, participants were asked if they had seen the film of the moment when the plane hit the apartment building  More than half of the participants reported seeing the film, even though there was no such film o Follow up study – people were asked whether they have seen the film, and then asked more detailed questions  2/3 of the participants remembered seeing the film, and most of them confidently provided details about what they had seen o A large majority of people questioned seemed to have a detailed recollection of the nonexistent film  Is memory more accurate after a shorter delay? o People were placed in an office and taken out later (35s)  Participants’ recollections of the office were plainly influenced by their prior knowledge, their knowledge about what an academic office typically contains  Agreement between prior knowledge and the specific experience led to accurate memory  Participants recall a shelf filled with books  Participants recall was often in line with their expectations and not with reality: almost 1/3 of them remembered seeing books in the office when there was none Memory Errors: A Hypothesis  Within memory network, there are no boundaries keeping memories of one episode separate from memories of other episodes  Episodes aren’t stored in separate “files”, each distinct from the others o It is simply the density of connections  These connections play a crucial role in memory retrieval o Activate nodes in memory – activation will then flow outward from there, through the connections you’ve established and this will energize the nodes representing other aspects, eventually reaching the nodes you seek o The connections serve as retrieval paths, guiding your search through memory  “Transplant” errors – a bit of information encountered in one context is transplanted into another context  Part of the episode itself, which are linked because they were merely associated with the episode in your thoughts can produce transplant errors  Transplant errors – elements that were part of your thinking get misremembered as if they were actually part of the original experience PSYB57: Memory and Cognition Understanding Both Helps and Hurts Memory  They help because the connections, serving as retrieval paths, allow you to locate information in memory  Hurt because they can make it difficult to see where the remembered episodes stops and others, related knowledge begins  The connections encourage intrusion errors – errors in which other knowledge intrudes into the remembered events  Participants who read the prologue (“theme condition”) recalled much of the original story  Prologue provided a meaningful context for the remainder of the story and this helped understanding – understanding promoted recall  Participants who had seen the prologue made four times as many intrusion errors as did participants who had not seen the prologue o This understanding (including the imported element) that is remembered The DRM Procedure (Deese, Roediger, McDermott)  Research participants spontaneously make the connection between the list words and this associated word, and this almost invariably leads to a memory error o In the study, people were given a list of words that was themed “sleep”, people were able to recall but the word “sleep” was not on the list – word lists experiment  Recognition testing: o Participants shown test words and asked which of these appeared in the original test, they were likely to recognize “sleep” as being part of the lists as they are to recognize the actually presented list words o When asked how confident they are in their memories, participants are just as confident in their (false) recognition of “sleep” as they are in their (correct) recognition of genuine list words  This paradigm is referred to as DRM procedure o Mechanisms leading to these memory errors are quite automatic, and not mechanisms that people can somehow inhibit Schematic Knowledge  Schemata summarize the broad pattern of what’s normal in a situation  Schemata tells you what are normal occurrences  Schemata helps when the time comes to recall how an event unfolded, this is because there are often gaps in your recollection – either because they were things you didn’t noticed in the first place, or because you have gradually forgotten some aspects of an experience o Rely on schemata to fill gaps Evidence for Schematic Knowledge  Schematic knowledge helps you guide your understanding and allowing you to reconstruct things you cannot remember  Schematic knowledge hurts you by promoting errors in perception and memory PSYB57: Memory and Cognition  Reliance on schemata will make the world seem more “normal” than it really is and will make the past seem more “regular that it actually was  Frederick Bartlett – tendency to regularize o Participants did well in recalling the gist of the story, but made errors in recalling the particulars o Pattern of errors was quite systematic  Details omitted tended to be ones that made little sense  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  Elements that fit within the frame remained in their memories  Elements that did not fit dropped out of memory or were changed The Cost of Memory Errors  Eyewitness errors account for ¾ of these false convictions, more than all others combined Planting False Memories  Loftus and Palmer o Show participants a picture of an automobile collision  Asked question with either “hit” or “smashed” – led to biased answers  People who were asked “hit”, said there was no glass, accurate  People who were asked “smashed” often made error o Change of one word within the initial question can have a large effect  The participants experiences an event and then is exposed to a misleading suggestion about how the event unfolded => end up incorporating the false suggestion into their memory for the original event  Easier to plant plausible memories rather than implausible ones  False memories are also more easily planted if the research participant don’t just hear about the false event but, instead, are urged to imagine how the suggested event unfolded – an effect referred to as “imagination inflation”  Use subtle procedures (carefully worded questions) to plant false information in someone’s memory, or we can use a more blatant procedure (demanding that the person make up the bogus facts)  Easy to alter someone’s memory, with the result that the past as the person remembers it can differ from the past as it really was Are There Limits on the Misinformation Effect?  Misinformation effect => participants’ memories are being influenced by misinformation they received after an episode was over  Very small slips during an investigation can bias witnesses’ memory – including memory for details that may be deeply consequential for the investigation  College students were easily able to remember the genuine events (the events actually reported by their parents) PSYB57: Memory and Cognition o None of the students recalled the bogus events o By third interview, 25% of participants were able to remember the embarrassment of spilling punch, and many were able to supply details of this (entirely fictitious) episode  Provided participants with “evidence” in support of the bogus memory o Many participants were led to a vivid, detailed recollection of the hot-air balloon ride – even though it never occurred  Another study used an unaltered photo o Persuade participants that the experimenters really did have information about the participants’ childhood o When experimenters “reminded” the participants of an episode of their childhood misbehavior, the participants took this reminder seriously o Almost 80% of the participants were able to “recall” the episode, often in detail, even though it had never happened  Children are more vulnerable to “memory planting” than adults  You can remember entire events that never took place  Children sometimes accuse adults of abuse even when other evidence makes it clear the abuse never happened  People sometimes confess to (and apparently “remember” crimes that did not commit” Avoiding Memory Errors  Can usually trust our memories, because, more often than not, our recollection is complete, detailed, long-lasting, and correct Memory Confidence  Juries place more weight on witness’s evidence if expressed with confidence v. hesitant or hedged testimonies  Juries believe that confident recall is likely to be accurate recall o Judges believe the same  There is little relationship between memory confidence and memory accuracy  How could we be so poor in evaluating our own memories? o Our confidence in a memory is often influenced by factors that have no impact on memory accuracy o Feedback influence confidence, witnesses who had received the feedback expressed a much higher level of confidence in their choice than did witness who received no feedback  With confidence inflated but accuracy unchanged, the linkage between confidence and accuracy was diminished The “Remember/Know” Distinction  False memories: memories of events that never actually happened, can be just as upsetting, just as emotional, as memories for real events o Can be emotional  First of these is a “remember” judgment; the second is a case of “know” PSYB57: Memory and Cognition  A feeling of “remembering” is more likely with correct memories than with false memories  False memories often arrive with only a general sense of familiarity and no recollection of a particular episode  Distinction between “knowing” and “remembering” can not serve as reliable means  Memory errors, when they occur, are usually undetectable Forgetting The Causes of Forgetting  Meeting someone at a party, being told his name, and moments later realizing that you don’t have a clue what his name is o Stems from a failure of acquisition  One of the best predictors of forgetting is the passage of time o Retention in
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