The retrieved and changed to fit into

The
study of memory is an essential area in the cognitive approach to psychology. The
theory of reconstructive memory proposes that memory is an active cognitive process
that involves the reconstruction of information, rather than being a passive
retrieval of information from the long-term storage. (Popov, 2017).
Bartlett suggested that memory reconstruction is guided by individual’s scheme
and cultural (1932, cited in Law et al., 2010). This suggest that when we
reconstruct memory, it is affected by various factors such as relevant schemas
that we have formed over time. Therefore, this illustrates the idea how our memory
recall is distorted by schemas rather than being an exact representation of one’s
experience.

Bartlett
(1932) investigated the effect of schemas on memory. He demonstrated that
memory is reconstructive through serial reproduction, where he told twenty
British participants a story called “War of Ghosts” and asked them to
repeatedly recall the story at different time intervals. Results showed that story
which participants was retelling was shorter and details were altered to fit
the norms of British culture. This is because relevant schemas were used to
help participant make sense of information and retain details which shared past
experience (John Crane, 2012). It was concluded that cultural schemas
of participants affected the interpretation of information and one’s memory
recall. Therefore, it shows that information is retrieved and changed to fit
into existing schemas (Crane, 2018). This highlights how
one’s memory recall is vulnerable to distortions under the influence of their
cultural and personal beliefs.

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However, perception is also a key
factor which influences one’s ability to accurately recall past events. This is
demonstrated when Loftus et al. (1987) presented subject witnesses with
multiple slides of a customer in a restaurant. There were two conditions; the
no weapon condition, in which subjects saw a customer hand a check to the
cashier in contrast to the “weapon” condition, whereby a man points a gun at
the cashier instead. Participants were then asked to identify the man from
twenty different photographs. Results revealed that those who saw the event in
the weapon condition were less likely to accurately identify the person. This
was explained by the weapon focus. When the weapon was present, there was a
tendency of an individual to draw attention on the weapon and away from other
relevant information. This causes participants to lose focus on peripheral
details such as the person’s face, influencing participant’s perception of the
event and thus one’s memory. Therefore,
it was concluded that one’s memory recall is reconstructed under their interpretation
and perception of the event.

To see the extent in which memory
recall can be altered by irrelevant external influences, Loftus and Palmer
(1974) performed an experiment to investigate the effect of leading questions on
eyewitness’s ability to recall information.
Forty-Five American students were showed seven traffic accident footages. The
critical question was “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed
each other?” There were also four other conditions, where the verb ‘smashed’ was
replaced by collided, bumped, hit and contacted. Results showed a significant
effect of verb used on participant’s estimation of car speed. This can be
explained by how the use of different verbs activates different schemas in
memory, distorting eyewitness’s memory of the car’s speed, thus decreasing the reliability
of one’s memory recall (John Crane, 2012).

Therefore,
the aim of this study was investigating the effects of leading question on one’s
memory recall, especially the change of verb in the critical question on estimation
of speed in a car accident. This was done by partially replicating the study
from Loftus and Palmer (1974) as closely as possible, and specifically choosing
the verb “smashed” and “hit” as the two conditions used in the critical
question to see if it will have the same effect on speed estimates given.