Reconstructive nature of memoryIntroduction This study is part

Reconstructive nature of memoryIntroduction 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. Memory is the process of retaining previous learning. However, memory is not always reliable and often is altered due to inherent biases. Bartlett (1932) coined the theory of the reconstructive nature of memory which puts forth the idea that memory is influenced by schemas, a cognitive framework to understand the world around us better, reconstructing the past. 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, and the idea that memory is influenced by schemas. 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, in specific traffic accidents.It was conducted because most court-cases use eye-witness testimony as evidence, but its reliability is questionable. There were forty five students that participated in this 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 the critical question ‘How fast were the two cars going when they _______ into one another?’. The blank space was replaced by 5 verbs in 5 different conditions. The Independent variable was the verb, as it was changed, and the dependant variable was the mean speed estimate (km/hr). 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. This suggests direct support for Bartlett’s theory, providing evidence that our existing schema associated with a more intense verb ‘smashed’ leads to a higher perception of the speed, whereas, in reality this may be untrue. 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.The aim of my study was to investigate if there was a correlation between the type of verb used and the estimated speed of the car. In this experiment, the dependant variable: the wording of the verb, was modified only twice (2 conditions). In order to maximise the difference between the mean speeds the least intense verb ‘contacted and the most intense ‘smashed’ were used. one tailed/two tailedH?= 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. Exploration Method: DesignThe independent variable was whether the verb ‘contacted’ or ‘smashed’ used to describe the car crash would have an impact on the dependant variable: the mean speed in km/hr. The experiment was an independent measures design, as there were two distinct groups with two separate conditions. Using a repeated measures design, would mean involving the same participants for both conditions. This would mean the participants would know the aim of the study, and have learned the mean speed estimate in the first trial, and this would affect the second trial. This is called the practice effect or memory effect. By using independent measures, order effects are also kept at bay. It may also lead to demand characteristics, the participants may change their behaviour to ‘put their best selves forward’ and react in a way to consciously support/go against the aim of the study. To avoid the critical question from ‘standing out’ and to avoid demand characteristics, filler questions regarding the colour of the cars/ bystanders etc. were asked. Conformity was reduced by presenting individual questionnaires. All the variables were controlled. For instance, the video displaying the traffic accident was the same for both groups, so were the standardised instructions, and filler questions. It was also ensured that the experiment was run in an environment with little interference as control for both groups. The verbs ‘contacted’ and ‘smashed’ were used respectively to maximise the difference between the mean speeds of the least intense verb and the most. Ethicality was ensured throughout the experiments by handing out hard-copies of Informed consent forms, asking participants to sign to acknowledge their willingness to participate in the study. Furthermore, participants were debriefed about the aim of the study and informed about their rights to withdraw at any point during the study. Confidentiality was clearly expressed throughout the study. Method: Procedure Two grade 11 mentor groups were selected for the two separate conditions based on availability.The classes were randomly assigned one of the verbs ‘smashed’ or ‘contacted’.One of the researchers read out the standardised instructions (refer to appendix ?) , reminded them of their rights and the participants were asked if they had any queries.Informed Consent forms (appendix ?) were handed to each participant, and collected once signed.The video clip was played, and questionnaires (appendix I)  were handed face down to avoid participants observing the questions during the video.A timer for 5 minutes was set using a stopwatch, and the questionnaires were collected. Participants were debriefed (appendix I).Method: ParticipantsAn opportunity sample was used for ease of availability. The participants were Year 11 students from an IB Diploma International school located in Singapore. Emails were sent to the respective mentor groups, and 2 mentor groups were selected. 20 was the total number of participants who took part (10 in each mentor class). The sample comprised of a varied mixture of genders, nationalities, and students taking varied subjects (Multicultural and multilingual). All the students had a proficient level of english and were between the ages of 14-16. Therefore, 10 participants were in the ‘smashed’ group and 10 belonged to ‘contacted’. Analysis