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Psychology Retrospective Interference coursework

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Introduction This coursework was based on Cognitive Psychology. Cognitive Psychologists examine internal mental processes and topics include perception, learning, memory, and forgetting. This coursework focused specifically on memory and forgetting. It is believed that there are two memory stores; short-term and long-term memory. This current research was on long-term memory (LTM) and the information that is stored in LTM is each person's knowledge of the world, their past life, and their plans for the future. Forgetting in LTM has been explained in many ways such as trace decay theory. Trace decay theory states that memories can automatically decay over time. There is little evidence to support this explanation; therefore, this theory could be questioned. Another explanation for forgetting in LTM is retrieval failure which states that forgetting occurs when information is available in LTM, but is not accessible or is not able to be "retrieved" from memory. However, there is an alternative explanation known as the interference theory which states that forgetting occurs because similar memories interfere with and disrupt one another by retroactive and proactive interference. Retroactive interference refers to new memories disrupting the recall of old memories and alternatively, proactive interference refers to old memories disrupting the recall of new memories. Jacoby et al (2001) suggested that there are two possible reasons for proactive interference. One is that there might be problems in retrieving the correct response from memory and another reason might be due to the great strength of the incorrect response learned originally such as bias or habit. Therefore, interference occurs because the correct response is too weak or because the incorrect response is too strong. In 1931, McGeoch and McDonald conducted an experiment to study interference in LTM. All participants learned a list of ten adjectives perfectly. Participants were then divided into groups to do different activities before being asked to recall the original ten adjectives. Some participants that spent 10 minutes resting had the highest recall of 4.50 adjectives on average followed by 3.68 for those who learned 3-digit numbers, 2.58 for nonsense syllables group, and 2.17 for unrelated adjectives group. ...read more.


Findings of this experiment show that the synonym group recalled in average more adjectives than other two conditions. The test results also showed that the observed value of U, 14.5, was less than the critical value of U, 27. Therefore, the findings of this experiment are unlikely to occur due to chance or random miscalculation since the probability of the resting condition and the synonym condition occurring is 5% or less. For that reason, the null hypothesis is rejected and the experimental hypothesis is accepted. The results table is generated to show the central tendency and dispersion between the resting condition and the synonym condition. The table showed that on the whole, the mean, mode, and median of the resting condition is significantly higher than the synonym condition. Moreover, the outcome of standard deviation of the synonym condition is higher than resting condition. This means that the results collected from the raw data (number of words which each participants remember) is more dispersed in the synonym condition. Relationship to background research The results of this experiment generated findings that strongly supports the results of McGeoch and McDonald. This experiment found that the number of adjectives recalled is most likely to be affected if a certain activity is occurring between the time interval of learning and time of recalling. McGeoch and McDonald examined many different activities including nonsense syllables and numbers whereas this experiment examined specifically on only three conditions. Similar to the original findings, the more similar information was fed, the more likely the recalling is to be affected. Thus, the synonym group of this research had the lowest recall rate of 6.4 average number of adjectives compared to the antonym, 7.4, and the resting condition, 8.7. The findings prove to be comparable to those of McGeoch and McDonald's with 4.50 average recalls of ten adjectives in the resting condition, 1.25 in the synonym, and 1.83 in the antonym. ...read more.


The study was based on a laboratory experiment and used an independent measures design. The participants were sampled using opportunity sample. The sample consisted of 30 participants and the target population was Shrewsbury International School Year 11-13. All participants were given standardized instructions and were told to learn a list of 10 adjectives. The participants in the first condition, which was the resting condition, were asked to rest for 5 minutes. The participants in the second condition, which was the synonym condition, were asked to learn another 10 adjectives that were synonyms to the original list of adjectives for five minutes. The participants in the third condition, which was the antonym condition, were asked to learn another 10 adjectives that were antonyms of the original list of adjectives for five minutes. After the 5 minutes, all participants were then asked to recall the original list of 10 adjectives by writing it down on a piece of paper. The directional hypothesis is the group of participants that rested during the 5-minute-interval would recall significantly more adjectives from the original list than those who learned the synonyms during the 5-minute-interval. The results show that the participants in the resting condition recalled an average of 8.7 adjectives, those in the synonym condition recalled an average of 6.4 adjectives (this was significant at the 0.05 level), and those in the antonym condition recalled an average of 7.4 adjectives. Therefore, the results support the directional hypothesis because the participants recalled significantly more adjectives in the resting condition than the synonym condition. As the results showed support to the hypothesis results, it can be concluded that retroactive interference do occur and the more similar the later material, the greater the interference and the higher level of forgetting. The findings of this experiment are significantly useful and can be implemented towards many aspects of learning and education. This can be applied in school and be implemented in daily teaching. People can implement this concept into learning in everyday life to prevent them from forgetting in LTM. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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