Reconstructive memory

Human memory is not an exact copy of events but rather a reconstruction that may be altered over time, through discussions with others or input from the media.

Research shows that memory may be changed during storage, processing and retrieval, for example, due to schema processing.

Knowing this could be important not only in our daily lives but in particular in relation to eyewitness testimony.

Relevant concepts related to studying the nature of reconstructive memory could be but are not limited to:

Listen to these pod casts:

As an introduction to this topic, you will be asked to watch the first of three episodes from the BBC series ‘Eye Witness’ which is available on the V and W drives. If you have time watch all three episodes.
It is well worth visiting the Open University website where there is further information about these programmes;
Click here to find out about the ethical issues raised by the making of the programme and how they were dealt with and how this compares with real psychological research.

Before our lessons you could also watch and read the following:
Here is a clip of Elizabeth Loftus talking about memory distortion:
There is also a great TED talk presented by Loftus too!
And finally, a lovely link from an article in the Guardian: well worth a read.

You are going to prepare for a debate; you will either be arguing that…
“Memory is reliable”  or “memory is not reliable”
Arguing the toss on ewt.notebook (this file helps set up the debate: check google drive as I cannot upload this file)
The following resources will get you started in terms of cresting your arguments and ultimately writing your essay.

Cast your mind back to Bartlett’s theory about Reconstructive Memory and also how schemas affect recall. This information will certainly be helpful when creating your argument regarding the extent to which memory is reliable!
taboo-recon-memory-theory (to help you to recap what your remember about Bartlett)

Researching your position
ewtsummary Use this sheet to make detailed notes on Loftus and Palmer (1974)
comparing-studies-of-ewt Use this sheet to record information about a range of studies for and against the reliability of eye witness testimony
expert-witness: Use Blue Eysenck to complete this sheet about Loftus and her work as an expert witness.
loftus-et-al-1978 Detailed notes on Loftus (1978)
cohen-1981 (use Blue Eysenck)
tuckey-and-brewer-2003 (use Blue Eysenck)
Knowing one study really well!
loftus you say we pay.notebook (see google drive)
rate it or slate loftus and palmer 1974.notebook (see google drive)
Detailed ppt made by a pupil about Yuille and Cutshall : yuille and cutshall (1)
Examiners Advice
SAQ: Explain the reliability of one cognitive process with reference to one relevant study. [8 marks]
There were some very good responses to this question; however, many candidates simply described a study of the reliability of memory but did not explain it. For example, in describing Loftus & Palmer’s (1974) study, it was necessary to link it back to schema theory as an explanation of why the memory was unreliable. Often the demands of the command term were not addressed.
Further reading: Lots of studies for you to follow up here:)

Assessment Questions:

SAQ: Describe reconstructive memory with reference to one research study. (9)
I would advise using Loftus and Palmer for this question.
  • Discuss reconstructive memory with reference to research evidence. (22)
  • Evaluate research into reconstructive memory. (22)
  • To what extent can one cognitive process be considered to be reliable. (22)

In an ERQ I would use Loftus and Palmer and Yuille and Cutshall as the bare minimum.