This on recalling the story, the participants distorted it.

This study is part of the cognitive approach to psychology, the theory that assumes our thought process affects our behaviour. It refers to the mental processes with which sensory inputs are dealt within the mind. It involves the study of mental structures and mental processes in terms of information processing. Bartlett coined the theory of the reconstructive nature of memory which puts forth the idea that memory is influenced by schemas, reconstructing the past. Schemas may It refers to a complex phenomenon that occurs when human beings include or disclude data from the original event, distorting the original event. Bartlett proposed that belief and imagination possess the ability to reconstruct memory.In 1932, Fredric Bartlett carried out an experiment wherein the subjects were made to read a Native American folktale ‘The War of the Ghosts’ and then recall it during various time intervals using a technique known as serial reproduction. The results showed that on recalling the story, the participants distorted it. The story was modified by the participant’s own cultural norms (confabulation), the story became shorter as time progressed ( levelling) and the events in the story were retold in a different order to make sense of it. This alteration of the events in the story, provides support for Bartlett’s theory. However, this theory does not explain the reason behind reconstructive memory. Another experiment was done by Allport and Postman (1947) to investigate the effect of schemas on recall. The first part of the study involved white participants to recall and describe an image. The image shown, portrayed an argument between a well-dressed, respectable black man, and a white man who was neither well dressed nor respectable. The participants reversed their appearances, making the black man the aggressor and furthermore, some believed the black man to be holding a knife. This study highlights the effect of cultural stereotypes embedded in society on memory recall. The study replicated was ‘ Reconstruction of Automobile Memory’ conducted by Loftus and Palmer (1974). The study aimed to test the effect of language used during eyewitness testimony on memory. There were forty five students that participated in the lab experiment. The sample was exposed to seven films depicting a traffic accident. After watching each of the series of films, participants received a questionnaire where the participants were asked to give an estimate speed (dependant variable) of the car when they collided. The verb (independent variable) ‘collided’ was then replaced with ‘bumped’, ‘hit’, and ‘contacted’. The results were recorded in a table. The mean speed estimate for the verb ‘smashed’ was 40.5mph, whereas, the mean speed for the verb ‘contacted’ was 31.8mph. The mean speed in reality was 37mph. The results demonstrate that participant’s estimate of the speed was affected by the verb used, this effect is applicable to eyewitness testimony based on the language used during interrogation. This could affect the telling of the crime and lead to bias in the testimony. The results obtained may be due to response- bias factors, in which case the misleading information explained the results and there was no creation of the false memory. The second possible reason could be due to an altered memory representation. One week after the experiment, subjects were asked whether they observed broken glass. Those that answered ‘smashed’ were reported to answer ‘yes’ implying they saw broken glass, when in reality this was not the case. Experiment two proves suggests that memory was altered, confabulation occurring. A drawback of the study is that it lacks ecological validity, being a lab experiment. It is unclear whether if the accident was witnessed first hand, the memory would be impacted and would have the same emotional effect. This ability of memory can alter behaviours and witness testimony during court trials, In the United States, information has been gathered on 300 innocent individuals who were convicted of crimes, out of which two thirds were due to false memories. This punishment of innocent people in regards to a serious topic such as crime makes it a necessary area of study, and is the inspiration behind this research paper.H?= There was no significant difference in the mean speed estimate regardless of the verb used.H? = The more intense verb (smashed), would result in the highest mean speed estimate, whereas the verb with lower intensity (contacted) would result in a significantly lower speed.


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