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An investigation to discover the effects of retroactive interference on memory recall.

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AS Psychology Coursework Kimberley Webb Abstract This experiment is based on the MacDonald and McGeoch investigation involving retroactive interference. Retroactive interference is where what we have learned is interfered with by subsequent learning. Otherwise explained as when later learning interferes with earlier learning. In my experiment the aim is to investigate whether or not retroactive interference occurs when testing the memory recall of a list of words. The research method used is an experiment and the design is an unrelated measures design. The sampling technique is opportunity sampling. My results show that there is a strong possibility that retroactive interference did occur as all my results agree with my experimental hypothesis and the null hypothesis is rejected. The experimental hypothesis states 'The participants who do not receive an interference list will significantly recall a higher average correct words than the group who received a retroactive interference word list in a free recall memory test.' This is a one-tailed test. It can be concluded that retroactive interference does occur during word recall. Introduction Psychology captivates me due to its inevitable ability to be concealed in everyday life, its limitations are endless and alike the brain; psychologists still has a lot to discover about this remarkable discipline. Memories are a store of personal experiences or events which occur throughout our lives and are stored in the capacity of our mind; however memories are not permanent, we forget. Forget important dates, forget essential holiday items, and forget telephones numbers. After researching the theories related to forgetting I can see that they are based around two main notions of availability and accessibility. Availability is whether or not the information is actually in the long term memory for retrieval. Psychologists base this concept on the fact that memories may not have been transferred from the STM to the LTM; therefore the information will be not stored and available for retrieval later on. ...read more.


Time constraints must also be kept constant; this will be achieved by using a stop watch. Another major variable which needs to be under control is that the participants need to understand the task which they will be taking part in. If this isn't accomplished then it could affect the results as the participant will spend time understanding the task rather than learning the words on the primary list; subsequently making the results un-reliable. Understanding the task will reduce the cognitive processing time which is valuable to this experiment. To solve this problem, prior to the experiment I will present the participants with a pre- standardised set of instructions. These will be clear and simple to understand with a step by step guide of what is expected of the participant. In order to further eliminate any confusion the participant will then be asked if they have any questions and also if there is anything they don't understand which can then be explained verbally. Ethical Issues Two main ethical issues which need to be considered when doing this experiment are 1)The participant must have the right to withdraw at any time throughout the experiment. Therefore to overcome this in the briefing I explained that all participants had the right to withdraw at any time. At the end of the experiment all participants will be given a full debriefing and given the opportunity to ask any questions. 1) The second issue is confidentiality; the BPS states that all participants have the right to confidentiality. In order to solve this predicament all participants will be told that all their results will be kept anonymous. Target Audience The participants I have chosen to use for my experiment are mixed upper sixth students at Campsmount Technology College, Doncaster, South Yorkshire. The age range will be kept to a minimum of 17-18 year olds. The subjects will be chosen at random and therefore the proportion of male to female will not interfere with my results as I am not comparing the results of different sexes. ...read more.


In order to get a more reliable view form the whole population I would use stratified sampling however this is very time consuming and would take a lot of organisation. Another slight change I could make would be to have a pre-listed criteria for the participants before the experiment. For example a particular IQ or GCSE score. This will make my audience more concentrated and reliable for that particular group of people. An extraneous variable that was not controlled for was the time of day that the experiment took place. Although it will not effect particular individuals in the experiment as they all had the test at the same time in the afternoon. It could have effected them in the way that they could be tired, some may have had more lessons previous than before. If I was to do the experiment again I would do the test in the morning as this seems like a more popular time of day to do the experiment as at this time no participants have had any lessons. If I was to do this experiment again I would possible change the type of experiment in terms of possible testing retroactive interference with age. I would use different age groups and see whether age had an affect of the persons learning ability. Other variables which could be tested would be gender, male V's females or other factors such as subject taken at a-level, intelligence or number of words in the list. However before the experiment I would definitely set a criteria so that my results are fair due to my variables being kept as constant as possible. In conclusion to my results I believe that there was a strong possibility that retroactive interference did occur. This is because all of my results have positively supported my prediction and my experimental hypothesis, that the participants who do not receive an interference list will significantly recall a higher average correct words than the group who received a retroactive interference word list in a free recall memory test. AS Psychology Coursework Kimberley Webb 1 ...read more.

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