To What Extent Is Our Memory Reliable? Position Statement
Memory is an essential cognitive function that processes the implementation and retrieval of information that is processes. It is a function that is relied on in many instances, such as the legal system’s use of eyewitness testimony. Recently, research has demonstrated that memory may not be as reliable as we think, as it may be influenced by other factors than what was originally recorded, due to the reconstructive nature of memory, by which the brains processes information to make sense of the world. However, to say that memory is not reliable would be unrealistic, as memory is still reliable to some extent, depending on the factors.
Loftus and Palmer conducted a research to show that leading questions could distort eyewitness testimony accounts and have a confabulating effect, as the account would become distorted by the cues provided in the question. To do this, 45 American students formed by an opportunity sample were tested in a laboratory experiment, which had 5 conditions. The participants were shown slides of a car accident involving a number of cars and asked to describe what had happened as if they were eyewitnesses. They were then asked specific questions, including the question “ About how fast were the cars going when they (hit/smashed/collided/bumped/contacted) each other?” A week later, the participants were asked “Did you see any broken glass?” When in fact, there was no broken glass shown in the slides. The research found that different choice of words had an effect on the estimation of speed as well as the perception of the consequences of the accident. The word ‘smashed’ provided the participants with verbal information that activated schemas for a severe accident. Misleading post event information 9the question on broken glass) easily caused memory to be easily distorted.
However, Loftus and Palmer’s study was heavily criticized by Yullie and Cutshall who conducted an...
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