The following was just posted on the British Psychological Society’s “Research Digest”. I thought that those with an interest in learning might want to test themselves on some questions about the way in which memory works. These are questions related to the area of “eyewitness testomy”, but you can also have fun thinking about how these questions would translate into insights about the educational context.
I have given the questions (below) in this post, and will follow up with the correct answers in a comment in a couple of days. You could, of course, just Goggle for the original post, to find the answers. But where is the fun (and learning) in that? For information, I did rather well. 🙂
Post begins :
In the latest in a series of investigations into how much people know about eye witness memory, Svein Magnussen and Annika Melinder have compiled 12 questions about memory and put them to 857 licensed members of the Norwegian Psychological Association. The correct answers were based on the latest consensus findings in the field of memory research. The Norwegian psychologists scored an average of just 63 per cent correct, no better than achieved by Norwegian judges (63 per cent) in prior research, and only slightly ahead of the general public (they scored 56 per cent on average).
This blindspot for understanding memory isn’t a uniquely Norwegian problem. Past research has established that US and Chinese judges, US law students and undergrads all have limited knowledge about the factors that affect eye witness testimony.
The findings have serious implications for the understanding of memory processes in court, especially the limitations of eye witness accounts. Magnussen and Melinder said their findings support the official guidance of the British Psychological Society’s Research Board that being a fully credentialed psychologist does not by itself make someone a memory expert. “A memory expert is someone whose expertise is recognised,” states the 2010 version of the report. “Recognition of relevant expertise should usually be in the form of outputs that are publicly verifiable, for example, peer-reviewed publications, other publications, and presentations at professional meetings. Of these, peer-reviewed publications are the most important.”
So how would you have fared at the memory quiz? Here are the test items in shortened form:
- 1 ) Is a person’s confidence in their memories a good predictor of the accuracy of those memories?
- 2 ) Is it true that eye witness testimony reflects not just what a witness originally saw and heard, but also other information obtained later on from the police, other witnesses etc?
- 3 ) Is a witness’s ability to recall minor details about a crime an indication of the accuracy of their identification of the perpetrator?
- 4 ) Does intense stress at the time of an event impair the accuracy of the memory of that event?
- 5 ) Can their attitudes and expectations affect a person’s memory of an event?
- 6 ) Does the presence of a weapon tend to impair a witness’s memory for a perpetrator’s face?
- 7 ) Does most forgetting tend to occur soon after an event?
- 8 ) Do children have better memories for events than adults?
- 9 ) How far back into their childhood can most people remember?
- 10 ) Are traumatic memories from childhood that are “recovered” in therapy (having never before been recalled) likely to be false?
- 11 ) Are dramatic events more or less likely to be forgotten?
- 12 ) Is it possible for a perpetrator to have forgotten their criminal act because they’ve suppressed that specific memory?