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Experimental Study Paper_psy 303

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Experimental Study Paper_psy 303

  1. 1. Running head: FALSE RECALL 1 The Effect of Words Versus Images on False Recall Cameron C. McPherson University of Oregon
  2. 2. Running head: FALSE RECALL 2 Abstract The present study tests if the amount of false recall would be less when stimuli are presented as images rather words. Frequencies of false memories were examined relative to modality and relatedness of stimuli. 131 psychology 303 students at the University of Oregon completed an online test of false recall. Participants ranged in age from 19 to 37 of which 69.5 percent were female and 30.5 percent were male. This study found a main effect of both variables and an interaction. Demonstrating how memory tasks such as eye witness testimonies may be susceptible to false recall.
  3. 3. Running head: FALSE RECALL 3 The Effect of Words Versus Images on False Recall Memories are complex functions of the brain that have always been of interest to scientists and psychologists. Understanding what causes memories and how they work are questions researchers are always trying to answer. Better comprehension of memory functions can be of great aid in everyday life. The present study is focusing on false recall in memory, which is when people report having seen a stimulus without ever having actually seen it. This study attempts to test if modality has an effect on false recall in unrelated versus related study items. The findings of this study are important because they could have practical and serious implications. Showing that images produce less false recall than words can aid in everyday tasks such as memorizing a shopping list by looking at images rather than reading words. A more serious application of the findings could be in eyewitness testimony and how false recall can affect that. Blair, Lenton & Hastie (2002) and Israel & Schacter (1997) are studies that used similar methods to this study that also tested false recall. In the study done by Blair et al. (2002) researchers wanted to know if the DRM paradigm was reliable in assessing both global and specific tendencies for false memory and the reliability of false memories relative to true memories. The Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm is a procedure where participants are presented with a list of words, all associated with a particular concept, and are then asked to perform a recall test. It is used in the study of false memories. The researchers also wanted to know how stable the tendencies were. This is interesting as there is not much research in this area and little evidence to show the DRM produces false memories that reveal stable individual differences. Without the ability to reliably measure individual differences in false memory the predictors, correlates, and consequences of individual differences cannot be meaningfully studied. The researchers hypothesized that by using a test-retest method they
  4. 4. Running head: FALSE RECALL 4 would be able to show that the DRM is reliable in both global and specific tendencies for false memories. Blair et al. (2002) used 59 male and female students from the University of Colorado to conduct their study. They presented the students with five lists of 15 words each. Each list was associated with a specific concept, four were taken from Rodger and McDermott (1995) and one was a stereotype list. They were presented through an audiotape where each word was spoken to the participant clearly and slowly. Participants were required to then work on simple arithmetic problems for two minutes before moving on to the next list. After hearing all the lists participants had to take a recognition test that consisted of two words that appeared on each of the initial lists. It also had two lure words related to each list, three for the stereotype list, and 20 filler words that were completely unrelated. This test was then repeated in the exact same manor two week later. Researchers manipulated what words were shown to the participants in the recognition test and measured the number of false memories produced by the tests. They found that both a global and specific tendency to produce false memories was stable across the two-week testing period, supporting the hypothesis that there is test-retest reliability. This shows that the DRM is a reliable individual-difference measure and can be used to study the correlates and consequences of false memory in future research. Blair et al. (2002) also stated that the findings of this study have important practical implications. Such as the problem of using response stability as a criterion for truth in eyewitness testimony. Which the present study suggests may be a serious problem due specific false memories being more stable than specific true memories. This study was limited in its ability to show why specific false memories were more stable than specific true memories. They were unable to answer the question of whether presenting the words as images would change the reliability of the DRM.
  5. 5. Running head: FALSE RECALL 5 Israel & Schacter (1997) studied whether using pictures corresponding to each word in an associative list would reduce the number of false recalls compared to not having pictures presented. They wanted to know if the modality in which the stimulus is presented has an effect. This is intriguing research because if it is proven it shows that having distinctive perceptual details of words allows for less false memories. Israel & Schacter (1997) hypothesized that participants should have fewer false alarms due to lure words after studying semantic associates presented with pictures as apposed to only words. The study involved 36 undergraduate participants from Harvard University for each of the two experiments. Each experiment presented the words through an auditory and visual component. Experiment one had participants studying 14 lists of 12 items, completing a puzzle in between each list. Then they were given a recognition test of 98 items consisting of 42 true targets, 18 true target controls, 28 false targets, and 10 false target controls. Experiment 2 had the same number of lists however the two lists that produced the lowest rates of false recognition in experiment 1 were replaced with two new study lists. Participants were then given a recognition test with a few less items than in experiment one. For both recognition tests, items were randomly assigned to be presented both visually and audibly or simply audibly. Researchers manipulated what items were presented with pictures and measured whether that influenced the number of false alarms. They found that in both experiments false alarms due to related and unrelated lures are reduced when lists of semantic associates are presented with pictures. These findings are significant and failed to reject their hypothesis. These results are important because they can be applied practically in everyday life. When a student is studying for a test he may be more inclined to study using images over words since the findings show he will have less false memories when attempting to recall what he studied. This study was limited in that it only studied between-subject groups and did not
  6. 6. Running head: FALSE RECALL 6 measure within subject groups. They were unable to answer the question of why lists of semantic associates presented with pictures produce less false recall. Based on the evidence from the aforementioned studies the present study will conduct an experiment to test for a main effect of relatedness and modality in false recall. The study conducted by Blair et al. (2002) did not use a control group when testing for false recall, participants saw both related and unrelated words. In the current study participants are put into either a related group or unrelated group. Blair et al. (2002) did however find the DRM to be reliable. This helped inform hypothesis one, that there would be a main effect of relatedness, with higher false recall in the related study item condition. While Israel & Schacter (1997) found that images produce less false recall, they used over 10 lists’, which may have had an effect on participant’s ability to remember what was on them. This study has participants only studying two list, which reduces the chances of participants becoming fatigued with over testing. The Israel & Schacter (1997) findings helped inform hypothesis two, that words will have a higher number of false recall than images, specifically in the related study item condition. Method Participants In this study we had 131 of the students in the psychology 303 classes at the University of Oregon complete an online recall test (n=131). The mean age of the participants was 21.62 with a standard deviation of 3.014, indicating a small variation. The age of the participants ranged from 19 to 37 (M=21.62, SD=3.014) and they were 69.5% female, 30.5% male. Design This study has two between-subjects independent variables each with two levels. It is a two by two independent-group factorial design. The first independent variable is semantic
  7. 7. Running head: FALSE RECALL 7 relatedness. Its first level is related study items and its second is unrelated study items. The second independent variable is the modality of how items are presented. Its first level is words and its second is images. The dependent variable of the study is the number of falsely recalled items ranging in scores from 0-2 since there were only 2 trials. The four conditions in the experiment are as follows; condition one, related study items presented as words. Condition two, related study items presented as images. Condition three, unrelated study items presented as words. Condition four, unrelated study items presented as images. Materials The DRM paradigm was used in this study with four different study lists, two containing words and two containing images. Each study list contained the same number of study items whether they are words or images. Two lists contained items related to the test list (e.g. desk, office, pencils, chairs). While the other two lists contained unrelated items (e.g. thread, yarn, needle). Depending on which condition the participants were randomly assigned to they saw these items either as images or written as words. Participants were randomly assigned to study one of the four lists of words in order to maintain internal validity. Participants received the same recall test across all four conditions. A list of 36 items (e.g. desk, office, pencils, chairs) appearing only as words was shown with a key word that has a strong conceptual link to the study items although it was never presented (e.g. books). The dependent variable was how many participants falsely recalled the key word. It was scored on a scale from 0-2 because there were two trials. A score of 0 meant no false recall, while 1 meant there was false recall during one trial and 2 meant there was false recall during both. Procedure
  8. 8. Running head: FALSE RECALL 8 Participants were asked to partake in an online experiment where, if they consented, they were randomly assigned to one of the four conditions. Each condition showed different study items but participants across all conditions were asked to memorize the items they were shown. Next all participants were asked to read a paragraph that acted as a filler in-between the study item presentation and the recall test. Finally the participants were given the recall test that was identical across all conditions. Results In support of hypothesis one, a statistically significant main effect of relatedness was found. Subjects in the related study item condition had higher levels of false recall (M=.73, SD=.75) than subjects in the unrelated study item condition (M=.04, SD=.19; F(1,127)=43.82, p<.01). Additionally, a statistically significant main effect of modality was found where words had a higher level of false recall (M=.68, SD=.73) compared to images (M=.31, SD=.61; F(1,127)=5.91, p<.05). In support of hypothesis two a statistically significant interaction between relatedness and modality was found (F(1,127)=5.06, p<.05). Subjects in the unrelated study item condition had almost identical values for modality with a mean of .03 (SD=.18) for images and a mean of .05 (SD=.22) for words. However an independent samples t-test for subjects in the related study item condition showed a statistically significant difference where words were falsely recalled much more (M=1.0, SD=.69) than subjects who saw images (M=.50, SD=.73; t(80)=-3.15, p<.01). Discussion A main effect of both variables and an interaction was found, supporting the two hypotheses. The study replicated the findings of the Israel & Schacter (1997) paper and the general findings of false memory with related items. False memories are more prominent with
  9. 9. Running head: FALSE RECALL 9 related items most likely due to the fact that people group related items together when memorizing lists. This grouping of semantic similarities allows for us to memorize more items however it allows for more false recall when items that have semantic similarities of the study items are presented. The reason pictures cause less false recall is likely due to the fact that they provide specific and varied perceptual information that words lack. The present study was limited due to its unequal sample sizes. Only 40 of the participants were male while 91 were female, meaning certain conditions could hypothetically only contain female participants. This affects the external validity of the experiment because it may not be generalizable to a larger male population. Another limitation was only having two lists from which participants studied words compared to the Blair et al. (2002) study that used five lists. Having only two lists may allow for easier memorization thus eliminating the possibility of false recall. The present study lends support to the Israel & Schacter (1997) study because the findings are similar. The implications are also similar to those of the Israel & Schacter (1997) study. The results of this study have many practical implications. They can be applied when police are gathering eyewitness testimonies by showing witnesses photo evidence instead of written evidence in an attempt to produce less false recall. Students may also use the results to help with school by studying images rather than words when preparing for tests. More experiments can be conducted in the area of false recall to test different variables. One such study could involve changing the independent variable of words and images to faces and bodies. So the experiment would be testing the amount of false recall in related versus unrelated faces and bodies. This experiment would have four conditions, similar to the present study. Participants would be studying images of people’s bodies in one experiment and of faces in the other. The hypothesis that there would be a main effect of relatedness would stay the same. However there would be a new hypothesis
  10. 10. Running head: FALSE RECALL 10 that bodies will have a higher number of false recall than faces, specifically in the related study item condition. This is due to the fact that People with similar body types are common, while people with similar faces are less common. Meaning faces have distinct perceptual differences that allow for us to remember them easier. This experiment is important because it too could have implications in eyewitness testimony. If the hypothesis was supported this experiment would have important implications. It could be applied when police have suspects line up and victims pick them out of a line up. Showing that similar bodies produce false recall may give incentive to police to only show faces of potential suspects to witnesses and victims to reduce the amount of false recall. Having found that images produce less false recall than words it is exciting to see what different variables future research on false recall will test.
  11. 11. Running head: FALSE RECALL 11 References Blair, I., Lenton, A., & Hastie, R. (2002). The reliability of the DRM paradigm as a measure of individual differences in false memories. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 9, 590-596. Israel, L., & Schacter, D. (1997). Pictorial encoding reduces false recognition of semantic associates. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4, 577-581.

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