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Forgetting is a common process that occurs near enough every day. The general definition of forgetting is the inability to recall

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Assignment 2. a) Forgetting is a common process that occurs near enough every day. The general definition of forgetting is the inability to recall or recognise something that has been previously learned. Forgetting occurs in both short and long term memory, and several explanations have been put forward as to why forgetting occurs. There are two main theories concerning forgetting in long term memory. The first explanation was the decay theory, this suggests that information stored in memory can eventually fade away. There is an assumption that a memory trace in our brain disintegrates over time and so is lost. This idea of gradual deterioration comes with it's criticisms. There is much research evidence surrounding this explanation of forgetting in long term memory. Lashley (1931) conducted some famous experiments, with training rats and removing certain sections of their brains; his research supports the view that long term memory may be related to physical decay. Another classic and well known study was conducted by Jenkins and Dallenbach (1924). They found that recall was better if participants slept through the retention interval, this way little information was entering their memory, and therefore displacement could not have occurred. At night there was no displacement and little forgetting - this illustrates that forgetting during the day must be due to displacement and as a result cannot be explained by the decay theory. Although, this study cannot be relied upon as valid - Jenkins and Dallenbach made a major methodical flaw in their experiment. The independent variable was whether or not the participant slept during the retention interval; the confounding variable was when the participants were tested for recall. ...read more.


Although, the critiscisms of the study would have to be taken into consideration (as with any study), generally this research allows us to assess forgetting in short term memory, and the duration for which information remains in our short term memory. c) Sometimes when accidents or crimes occur, it is necessary to try to gain as many accounts of the event from as many different perspectives as possible. This is commonly known as eyewitness testimony. The general definition of eye witness testimony is the evidence provided by a person who witnessed a crime, with a view to identifying the perpetrator. The accuracy of eye witness recall may be affected during initial encoding, subsequent storage and eventual retrieval. This is why it is necessary to gain as many eye witness recalls as possible as so to put together a general, fairly accurate account of what did occur. Much research has been carried out investigating this aspect of memory and has, as a result, aided our knowledge concerning eye witness testimonies. Several decades ago, prior to the Devlin Report in 1976, it was generally assumed that eye witness testimony was sufficiently accurate to be used as sole evidence. However as time progressed and some of the inaccuracies of eye witness testimony were discovered, our understanding and interpretation of it has increased greatly. Elizabeth Loftus has conducted many different investigations into this topic, and her work is considerably the most accurate and well known evidence surrounding eye witness testimony, and is a key individual in helping us understand more about this concept. Loftus worked together with Palmer to look at some of the ways memory can be distorted. ...read more.


Finally, they were shown pairs of slides and had to identify which slides were in the original sequence. 75% of participants that had consistent questions picked the correct slide, whereas only 41% who had a misleading question picked the correct slide. This further illustrates that the misleading question affected their recall. Loftus also conducted a number of smaller studies, in 1979 she not only identified the weapons focus theory, the fact that in real life situations weapons may distract attention from the perpetrator of the crime, and that this may be the explanation as to why eyewitnesses sometimes have poor recall for certain details of a crime. Another study by Loftus in 1979, showed that we may have very good recall for important information, and that recall of such information may not be distorted - even by misleading questions. Clearly, from not only the quantity of research that Elizabeth Loftus has contributed to the understanding of eye witness testimony, but also from the quality of it and the conclusions that can be deduced from her work that she has made a large, and perhaps the most significant contribution to the way we view and value the reliability of eye witness testimonies. The findings from all of her studies allow us to assess all aspects of eye witness testimony, much more than ever before. It is likely that in the future even more research will be carried to out to discover yet more factors concerning eye witness testimony and it's volubility and reliability, but it is undisputable that Loftus' work has laid the basis for any new conclusions that are made, and will remain some of the most significant research on this factor of psychology. 1 Kerry Phillips. 12th November 2004. 1 Psychology. St Edwards School Sixth Form. ...read more.

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