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whether leading questions can affect a person's memory of a question and insert an object that is not there into the memory.

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

Introduction Memory is the minds ability to store information and use it. A single process has yet not been defined about it and several theories exist about its nature. It has a huge role on our everyday lives and can be categorised into two main parts: short-term memory and long-term memory. Short-term memory stores a limited amount of information for a period of a few seconds. It can also be referred to as the 'primary', 'working' or 'active' part of the memory. On the other hand, long-term memory is stored as meaning and can last from 30 seconds to time periods as long as decades. The reliability of memory is often questioned. Memory is extremely malleable. Studies have shown that memories are often constructed after the fact has been told, and suggestions from others help fill the gaps. For example, if a police officer shows a witness a picture of an assailant and then shown a line-up of possible assailants, whether the witness is recalling the person they saw or the person in the picture is questionable. Bartlett (1932) investigated the effect of schema on a participant's recall of a story. A schema is a mental structure that represents some aspect of the world. They are used by people to organise current knowledge and is thought to provide a framework for future understanding. His theory of reconstructive memory is crucial to an understanding of eyewitness testimony because he says that the way we see our world and make sense of it affects our recall. To test this Bartlett conducted a study in which the participants were told stories from other cultures, which would be hard for them to understand. The story 'War of the ghosts' when recalled had changes in it to suit the western culture. For example 'canoe' was recalled as 'boat' and the concept of ghost was sometimes missed out altogether. ...read more.

Middle

The debrief contained exactly how they may have been led and by which question. They were again given the right to withdraw if they did not agree with the deception. The participants were reminded about the confidentiality of their results, and how the results would be unidentifiable. Pilot study A pilot study was conducted to find any problems with the questionnaire and the clarity of the picture. Five people were asked to complete the questionnaire after being the shown the picture. The wording of the leading question was changed from 'There were kiwis in the fruit bowl. Yes or No' to 'How many kiwis were in the fruit bowl? Three or None'. The reason for this change was that the first version of the question was a statement and not a question; therefore it did not allow the participant a choice. Participants The target population was students at St Marys College, Shear Brow, Blackburn. This was because the students were the people available at the time and because opportunity sampling was used, they were the target population. A sample of 20 students was used with the age range of 16 to 18 and the gender ratio was 10 males and 10 females. 10 of these students formed the control group who were asked the non-leading question and the other 10 formed the experimental group who were asked the leading question. They were asked to choose from the two questionnaires (one containing the leading question and the other containing the non-leading question) hence they became part of either the control or experiment group. The sample was obtained using opportunity sampling. Opportunity sampling is when the participants that are selected are the ones available at that time. This type of sampling was used due to the fact that it was quick and convenient. However, it was harder to get a representative sample and bias may have occurred to choose the most helpful looking participants. ...read more.

Conclusion

This would help achieve results that are more reliable and therefore generalised more easily. The experiment would take place in laboratory conditions so that a cause and effect can be established definitively, and extraneous variables such as a noise and distractions from other people would no longer be problems. The two questionnaires would contain all leading or all non-leading questions, so that the results do not depend on the answer of one critical question. Open-ended questions could be used to give the participant more freedom to answer. Also, the subject of the task could be changed to something more serious such as the scene of a car crash, making it more alike to realistic situations, and giving the participant more motivation to give the task more attention, due to the seriousness of the subject. Further research stimulated from this investigation, could be investigating the differences gender can cause in answering leading and non-leading questions i.e. is one gender more easily led than another? The experiment could be conducted in the same manner, however there would be two groups who are asked the leading questions (one consisting only of males and the other of females) and two groups who are asked the non-leading questions (again one of males and the other of females). The results for the leading questions group for each gender would then be compared, and so would the results for the non-leading questions group. They would be compared using tables and bar charts, comparing the mean number of correct answers for each gender. There would either be no relationship between the two genders, or one gender would be more easily led than the other. This would be apparent from the results. This investigation was carried out to find the effect of leading and non-leading questions on a person's recollection of a memory. It was found that there was no relationship between the independent (style of question: leading/non-leading) and dependant (whether participant was led or not) variables and kiwis were not inserted into the memory of a fruit plate, for those people who were asked the leading question. ...read more.

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