Reliability Of Memory

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In this essay, I will be presenting some strengths and limitations of the reliability of one cognitive process, namely memory. Memory is defined as the process of organizing the multitude of information gathered through personal experience. Schema, defined as many networks of knowledge, beliefs, and expectations about aspects of the world, can help memory be more accurate, since people tend to remember details more vividly when their schemas are activated. However, each time a person recalls a memory, the memory is reconstructed. This is known as reconstructive memory. The theory of reconstructive memory is the idea that the brain automatically fills in the missing pieces in a memory with information that makes sense. Reliability is defined…show more content…
In the study done by Andrew and Pichert, an experiment was conducted in which participants were given a story of two boys who stayed home on a school day, and were given the perspective of either a robber or a house buyer. Then, they were given a recall test of the house’s characteristics- the potential house buyers recalled a leaky roof, while the burglar perspective recalled the color tv and an antique coin collection. The participants then switched viewpoints, and it was found that participants were able to recall certain characteristics which were not consistent with their schema. This could mean people were able gather information which was not necessarily aligned with their schema, which portrays that memory can, in fact, accurately recall details of an event. A strength of this study could be the selection of stories and schema stimuli within these stories. This could, in contrast, be a limitation to the reliability in that to recall a memory, the brain is dependent on the stimulus of a specific schema, and if not given the stimulus, one would only be able to recall some aspects of a memory and not others. However, a limitation could be the non-variance of participants, leading to the recall of details from both perspectives, which could be seen as a strength in the…show more content…
Two experiments were conducted: the first experiment contained 45 participants who were shown a short clip of a traffic accident. After the video, the participants were asked, “about how fast were the cars going when they _______ each other?”. The blank represented the independent variable- the verb, which varied between smashed, collided, bumped, hit, or contacted. Participants with the verb “smashed” reported the highest speed average, while “contacted” showed the lowest speed estimates. In the second experiment, 150 participants viewed the video and were divided into three groups: smashed, hit, or control. A week later, the participants were called back and asked whether broken glass was present from the car crash. The “smashed” group reported higher numbers of participants who reported glass being present. The results showed that the use of different words could influence the participant’s interpretation. Loftus and Palmer expanded on the process of integration and reconstruction, explaining that the two memories- one of the video and the other of the question, combined to become one cohesive memory which the participants remembered. This limits the ability to separate the two, since external information helped merge the two memories. Some limitations of this study could include the non-consideration of mood and environment -the video clip of
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