Reading 25: Classic Memory and the eye-witness Experiment 1 Experiment 2 Conclusion Reading 26: Contemporary Misinformation Effect Memory Impairment Source Monitoring Confusions Memory Impairment Redux Conclusion Questions from the Readings
Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction: An Example of the Interaction Between Language and Memory
Memory and the eye-witness Experiment 1 Experiment 2 Conclusion
How accurate is our memory? Can it be influenced by mere suggestions? The following study will shed light into this fascination (and frightening!) topic “There are some things one remembers even though they may never have happened.” ― Harold Pinter
45 Students participated in groups of various sizes Students viewed seven films that showed a traffic accident Following the video, they were asked the same question using different words… “About how fast were the cars going when they (blank) each other?” Smashed40.8 Collided39.3 Bumped38.1 Hit34.0 Contacted31.8
The accidents depicted in the films were staged. The actual mean speed of the films were 37.7, 36.2, 39.7 and 36.1 mph. Two theories can be taken from the previous results: 1.The wording used in the question can form a bias that makes the person answering the question uncertain about what they saw. When they hear the word “smash” or “collided,” it makes them rethink their decision because of the definition 2.The wording actually makes the person believe and “see” the accident in a different way. The use of the word “smash” gives them an impression that the accident was more severe than originally seen
150 Students participated in groups of various sizes They were shown a 1 minute film involving a multiple car accident (4 seconds long) A questionnaire was given afterwards, once again involving critical key words. 100 students were asked: “About how fast were the cars going when they (blank) each other ?” 150 Students participated in groups of various sizes They were shown a 1 minute film involving a multiple car accident (4 seconds long) A questionnaire was given afterwards, once again involving critical key words. 100 students were asked: “About how fast were the cars going when they (blank) each other ?” HIT (50 students) Mean speed estimate: 8 mph HIT (50 students) Mean speed estimate: 8 mph SMASHED (50 Students) Mean speed estimate: 10.46 mph SMASHED (50 Students) Mean speed estimate: 10.46 mph
Students were brought back a week later to answer additional questions about the accident. The key question in this series was the one asking if there was any broken glass in the film (there was none). The probability of the participant saying “yes” to the broken when the word smashed was used was.32 The probability of the participant saying “yes” to the broken when the word hit was used was.14 Did the word smashed effect more than the viewers impression of speed? Did it somehow make the viewer think there was broken glass when there wasn’t any to be seen?
In conclusion, the study can demonstrate that just by mere suggestion, our impressions of an incident can change by the attachment of a verbal label Our memory can converge so that it recalls a single event. In the study, the person perceived the event. Then they gathered information from the external information supplied during the questioning process. One combined memory is then formed
Eyewitness testimony is often viewed as the “smoking gun” in a court case. However, given what we have already learned about the power of suggestibility, can we ever truly trust the testimony of someone who “saw it all?” “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” ― Oscar Wilde
Loftus line of inquiry used by Loftus and colleagues Phase 1: Subjects view an event Phase 2: Subjects receive verbal information about event Phase 3: Subjects take a memory test about the event that asks about critical details of the event Loftus hypothesized that when new conflicting information is presented to the subject, it can overwrite and distort their original perceptions. New information can be news events, other people’s suggestions at what happened and implications in questions from police or reporters.
Their findings changed the idea from a dramatic memory distortion to the concept of poor testing methods They also implied that the subject was only changing their memory in order to please the person they were speaking with (who had the new, conflicting information) McCloskey and Zaragoza suggested an alternative theory to the misinformation effect They suggested that the new, conflicting information did not replace the old perception; it only overshadowed it
A source monitoring error occurs when a recovered memory from one source is wrongly attributed to a different source. This can happen for several reasons: The sources are very similar, and easily confused (for example, confusing statements from nurses who both have blonde hair) Things viewed or suggested before an event can actually be mistaken as part of the event itself A study were performed in which participants were verbally suggested things before witnessing an event When asked to recall the event, they recalled the verbally suggested events as if they had happened Zaragoza and colleagues observed that false memories are more likely to be formed if the subjects were told to visualize the post-event information
The opposition study (by Jacoby) Viewed an event 2 days later, they were given misinformation about the event. They were told that the information was incorrect. Then, they were given a test about the event directly afterwards Group 1 (easy) Viewed an event Immediately they were given misinformation about the event. Subjects were told that the information was incorrect. They were given a test about the event 2 days later Group 2 (difficult)
Group 1 (easy) Group 2 (difficult) Subjects from this group showed no tendency to reveal misinformation in the test Subjects in this group revealed misinformation in the test, even when told the information was incorrect!
Although the subjects in the easy group were able to identify which information was true and which was false, their capability to recall specific details about the event was reduced. This is powerful evidence that misleading suggestions can damage an eye-witness testimony and their ability to recall an event correctly.
Subjects are less likely to know when post-event information is incorrect, and may use it as a source when asked to recall an event Subjects can confuse information they heard before and after an event as part of the event itself, depending upon the context of the mis-information Misleading information can impair a subject’s ability to recall an event, even when they know the information is incorrect or biased
Reading 25 Do you feel that people can feel just as certain about false memories as they do accurate ones? Have you ever experienced a situation in which this is true? How can we encourage the people we work with (as professionals, or even personally) to recall events accurately? Reading 26 During a court case, there are often things that are stricken from the record (but are still said aloud in front of the jury). Do you think this still influences the decision the jury may make? If so, how can it be corrected?