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Course work on memory

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Course work Psychology AS-level Introduction Memory is a hard topic to investigate upon, as there are many factors that effect memory and forgetting. It does not of course greatly matter whether for example we can remember where we were when we heard of the death of princess Diana. There is however one situation where our recollection of certain events/faces/objects can be of crucial importance, namely in the case of a witness testifying in a court of law. Eye-witness testimony has often been criticised for being unreliable and extremely persuasive and therefore many studies have been done do investigate upon it. Some show that even objects or events we see very frequently are often poorly remembered (J. Mckeen Cattell 1895). One of the leading psychologists in the area of Eye-witness testimony is Elizabeth Loftus. To show, for example, the influence an Eye-witness can have upon a jury she set up dummy trials and found out that 9 convicted on the evidence alone, 36 convicted when an Eye-witness gave his account and still 34 convicted when the Eye-witness who gave his account was later said to be unreliable since he was short sighted and not wearing his glasses at the time and therefore couldn't possibly have seen the face of the defendant. ...read more.


This will all be taken care of by a consent form, which will have all the above information on it, and the participants will sign to give consent and state that they have read and know their rights. The experiment will be conducted by a 16 year old AS-level student. The participants will be between the age of 16-30, either male or female (no preferences) and all will be students at either A-level or university level. Location and time will vary. The method of sampling will be opportunity sampling. This was chosen in order to get the maximum number of participants. A more structured sampling method would have complicated the choice of participants and therefore limited the number. As there was a limited time this could not be allowed. The participants are equally of either A-level or university education. Nearly all participants were under 25 and still over half were under 20. The participants were assigned to conditions randomly. At first they were assigned to the conditions by the participant number, even numbers got the questions with the word "close" uneven numbers got the question with the word "far". Half way through when two participants were tested at the same time and had to be asked the same question. ...read more.


The media is also dangerous when using leading words or questions, when in an article the word "the" is used instead of "a" this might suggest that something that wasn't, actually is there (Loftus and Zanni) which could change our perception of the world around us. As this experiment was just that of an A-level student there were many limitations to it. Firstly 12 participants aren't really a large sample and the way the experiment was done could be improved as well. For example done in a laboratory, to exclude any disturbances might make a difference. The fact that only students were asked and all were between the ages of 16-30 makes the sample unrepresentative. In eye-witness testimony the witness, after having see the event, might be stressed or other emotions could effect their recall. Also the leading question will be asked after the event, sometimes even month later, not while witnessing it. All these factors make the experiment ecologically invalid. Conclusion The experiment supports the aim and hypothesis. It shows that even while looking at something and being asked a leading question this could influence us. If this is while looking at something just imagine how great the effect will be in a real life situation, where the witness giving his account of the situation a month later. Altogether it just shows how unreliable and influential eye-witness testimony is. ...read more.

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