The Schema theory which was derived by Sir Frederic Bartlet (1886-1969) ascertains that the mind is organised into units called schemata.

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Evaluating the Schema Theory               

The “Schema theory” which was derived by Sir Frederic Bartlet (1886-1969) ascertains that the mind is organised into units called schemata. Schemata are “Organised structures that capture knowledge and expectations of some aspect of the world.” (Bartlett, 1932). These units represent single concepts such as “dog” they are abstract and leave room for interpretation. For example within the schema of a dog, most people have teeth, fur, four legs, tail, etc. Therefore, if a person has a dog in front of them and only sees the front of the dog with the snout, fur and ears he can deduce that most likely the dog will have a tail even though he cannot see it. This is the result of default values, which fill in the missing slot when one even only sees the front of a dog and which tells a person that the dog probably has a tail. The “Schema theory” also relies on how we process memory; the process is shown below;


              Encoding                                          Storage                                Retrieval


       Added to memory                       Maintained in memory               Recovered from Memory

The schema theory is useful and elucidates many things that would otherwise be extremely confounding. One of the main advantages of the schema theory is that it shows how humans categorise and interpret information. The schema theory states that everything is placed into a schema, in which it is organised. For example as mentioned above the dog schema has; snout, fur, teeth, tail and many other things. This explains how we come to associate certain things, due to them being in the same schema. They are organised together and it is much easier for a person to remember objects when they are from the same schema. This can be seen in the Brewer and Treyen 1981 research study, in which 30 participants were individually placed into an office. They were told to wait there for a period of time and when they were told to come out again the researchers asked them to recall as much of the objects in the office as they could. They found that office related objects were easily recalled and some even invented which could have fit into an office, (e.g. pen/book), whereas office unfamiliar objects were mostly not at all, and if then scarcely remembered. This shows that the “office schema” affected their recall of the objects, as in their minds the office was organised with certain objects and they were categorized into the “office schema”. This is one of the schema theories main advantages because it tells us about how we associate different things with each other, because they are related through schemata.

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Another characteristic of the schema theory is that it explains memory distortions. Memory distortions are filled in memories with false information, or even memories that are created completely fictionally. It gives a better insight into how memories are encoded, stored in the short-term memory, in the long-term memory and the sometimes manipulated. This is both an advantage and a disadvantage of the schema theory. An advantage because people can overwrite memories of abuse or similar traumatising incidents, with other fictional events.                         This is extremely beneficial because the mind can use it as a protection against traumatising events. On the ...

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