Memory Research Paper Example

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1822 Words
Date:  2022-05-09

Objective of the Proposed Review

Some psychologist believes that memory is either permanent or malleable. There are studies that demonstrate under certain circumstances the recollection can be accurate. Elizabeth Loftus had done research suggesting incorrect information can lead to one's memory becoming altered and resulting in the person believing their recollection of the event to be true when in reality it was an error due to memory. Using eyewitness testimony, when one cannot guarantee that the memory is correct can result in innocent people going to prison for a crime they did not commit.

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My interest in memory came from the first psychology class I ever took. My professor showed us a ted talk featuring Elizabeth Loftus discussing the malleability of memory. Ever since then I have always found memory fascinating. Loftus' famous study about eyewitness accounts of car accidents changed the view of memory and showed how unreliable it could be (Workman, 2012). Loftus has done numerous researchers on memory and the misinformation. The influence of misleading information results in a distorted version of the event. There is evidence that emotionally arousing events are more likely to remember accurately (Morgan & Southwick, 2104). It is believed that if the event is arousing, it will stick with the person resulting in an accurate ate recollection. Emotionally arousing experiences stimulate the release of endogenous stress hormones/neurotransmitters, and that these stress hormones can enhance consolidation of memory (Mclntyre, McGough, &Williams, 2012). This goes against what Loftus believes to be true about memory. The research she has conduct shows that memory is not as reliable as one would think. De Fao (2004) discusses that there are two theories about memory; the main difference between the two is that memory can be uncovered intact with proper tools, while Loftus felt that the original memory is forever changed. The debate between the two theories has resulted in many studies; however, most studies appear to support Loftus' hypothesis.

Literature Search Strategy

I have begun reading and taking notes from additional resources material. Browsing through the database, I came across an article about witnesses for the defense. Loftus and Ketcham (1991) explain why memory isn't reliable and demonstrates how new memories can be implanted by the questioner. In my research, I plan on using PsychINFO to look for relevant articles about the topic. Not only that but also using the database for Criminal Justice since eyewitness testimony is used in legal matters. I found an article that discusses the accuracy of the statement of eyewitnesses (Whitehouse, Orne & Dinges, 2008). I plan on getting more help from the research area for additional leads. On the following pages are articles that I have uncovered so far. As I do more research, I plan to add more to my reference page.


Memory is not a perfect file, it is creative, and it renews memories to adapt them to the changes in our life. Oblivions, errors and memory failures are necessary for its operation. Hundreds of scientific studies, which have been conducted mainly in the last 30 years, have shown that human memory can make mistakes and can be affected by a variety of factors, such as can occur in eyewitness identification (Kaplan, 2001). The current cognitive psychology, inspired by the studies of Barlett, considers that the human being interprets the information based on their previous knowledge (more personal schemas), and thus builds their memories. Memories contain more and less than the facts lived: more, because there is a work of structuring and interpretation; less, by the selection of relevant facts and the elimination of what does not interest us.

Everything that was once in the memory and is no longer constitutes oblivion and, although it seems paradoxical, the good health of memory depends on forgetting. Oblivion is the inability to remember names, dates, facts or knowledge. It is caused by saturation of information or failures in recovery, although remembering everything would be as terrible as not remembering anything. For psychoanalysts, forgetfulness is a psychological mechanism of fense: the mind defends itself from painful experiences by actively excluding them from consciousness, forgets unpleasant things or negative emotional histories. The past cannot be rewritten, but its impact can be mastered.

Recent studies show that memory for stressful events is malleable and vulnerable to alternation. Among combat veterans, some studies have shown that memories of traumatic events, experienced while in a war zone, can be inconsistent over time. The inconsistencies in memory were not limited to trivial events, but instead, included non-trivial events (Morgan et al., 2014). Memory loss may be triggered by distortions and alterations which may not be known by the witnesses thereby providing false testimony and subjecting innocent people to injustice. Among the types of memory, failure is suggestibility which is the tendency of an individual to incorporate misleading information that comes from external sources, i.e., other people, images, and media - to their memories (form false memories). The dictatorial systems, as they know that memory is suggestible, obtain false confessions from political prisoners for crimes they have not committed. Franz Kafka analyzed this question in his work The memory Process (Alianza, 2006). Erroneous attribution or misattribution is another form of memory failure which consists of assigning memory to a wrong source, for example, confusing fantasy with reality or remembering things that have not happened (Schacter, 2001).

Even without acting in bad faith, the testimony of a person who testifies before a court of justice could be false, because it is contaminated with erroneous information that, without being aware of it, has incorporated into his memory. This false information could leak into the memory altering the subsequent testimony. This, if possible, could have enormous consequences for the outcome of the trial. The reality that specific memories could be false especially in serious cases of criminal trials prompts us to ask the questions; To what extent we can trust the memory of a witness? Is it possible to generate false memories in people? Can human behavior be manipulated in this sense? Could a person be manipulated to do or not do something by inducing some false memory? The existence of false memories, a condition that is not easily detectable by the Judge makes eyewitnesses unreliable in defense proceedings and should be discouraged.

Memory Process

Encoding is the process by which a mental representation is formed in memory (Samaha, 2011). Encoding is dependent upon the same individualized factors that are present in perception and expectations. Expectations impact what information an observer seeks out or avoids, ultimately impacting their overall memory (Fradella, 2006). People encode information that draws their attention, or they consider relevant, but they fail to encode a lot of other details so if the information is not encoded, then it cannot be remembered. The brain functions in retention and storage of the encoded material over time (Samaha, 2011). Retrieval is the recovery of stored information from memory (Samaha, 2011). The memory is not a unitary and homogeneous entity (there is no specific place in the brain where memories are stored) but consists of several systems that allow us to acquire, retain and retrieve information that comes from the environment. Each memory has its anatomical circuit, and different brain lesions erase different memories.

Misinformation Effect

Misinformation effect occurs when a witness views an event, is exposed to misleading post-event information, and remembers some misleading details as having occurred in the original event (Calvillo, 2018). Researchers attempt a subtle approach of manipulating a source by eliciting trust from the subjects. Researchers performed a truth session, where the subjects witness an event followed by an accurate narration of the event. A month later the subjects returned and underwent the misinformation session, where the subjects witness an event which was followed by the narration of misinformation of the event (Zhu, Chen, Loftus, Lin, &Dong, 20. Subjects would experience greater misinformation, and the outcome of those effects may last longer than would have in the absence of the source (Zhu et al., 2010)

Change Blindness

A study done by Davis, Loftus, Vanous and Cucciare, 2008) revealed a failure to detect a secretive substitution of one person for another during the real-world social interaction. The experiment was designed to observe the participants awareness in mistaking innocent bystanders to a simulated crime. 59.6% of the participants did not notice the perpetrator and the innocent individual were different people. When the innocent person walked behind a stack of boxes, and subsequently the perpetrator emerged from behind the boxes resulting in an action that promoted the illusion of continuity between the innocent person and perpetrator. 73.4% misidentified the innocent person from the lineup. Participants who failed to detect change were more likely to misidentify than someone who did notice a difference (Davis et al., 2008). The results found participants who failed to detect change were a result of continuity of the events. Also, there were participants who misidentified the perpetrator, misperceived the events as uninterrupted and believed the innocent person was committing the crime.

Emotional Memory

Events that arouse emotions are more likely to be remembered accurately (Morgan & Southwick, 2104). It is believed that if the event is stimulating, it will stick with the person resulting in an accurate ate recollection. But under high stress, our brains facilitate the formation of "gist" memories that allow us to avoid future dangers, but which may not contain the detail and precision demanded by the judicial system (Morgan et al., 2014). Emotionally arousing experiences stimulate the release of endogenous stress hormones/neurotransmitters, and that these stress hormones can enhance consolidation of memory (Mclntyre, McGough, &Williams, 2012).

Eyewitness and Memory Loss

The person who has witnessed a particular event and declared in a trial can provide false information without being aware of it (Stromwall, L., Granhag, P. A., & Hartwig, M., 2004). Scientific research has shown that people have a particular susceptibility to generate false memories. This leads us to consider whether the testimony of a person who testifies before a court of law, even without acting in bad faith, could be false because it is contaminated with erroneous information that could have been incorporated into his memory. The memory, in the initial data collection, is vulnerable and especially in the case of minors. The possibility of the appearance of false memories is a fact in countless investigations. The generation of false memories has been carried out in many studies on essential events for the subject, even to modify the tastes or interests for certain foods and beverages and can cause changes in behavior with good consequences. There are also many investigations that warn us about the falsity of the so-called recovered memories.

The Problem of the Credibility of Eyewitnesses

We know that our memory is not perfect. Everyone, at a given moment, we are susceptible to forget where we have parked our vehicle, what we took to eat last Sunday or where that family member told us that he was going to go that afternoon (DePaulo, B. M., Lindsay, J. J., Malone, B. E., Muhlenbruck, L., Charlton, K., & Cooper H....

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