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Research Project 1

Research Project 1 - Introduction There have been many...

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Introduction There have been many theories pertaining to memory and how humans gather and store memories. A lot of our memory comes from what happens in our everyday life, though we hardly ever have to recall the precise details of these events. However, recall of these events is necessary at times- such as in eye witness testimonies. I am going to explain how the function of memory works and how that relates to the misinformation effect. I will also tell you how the misinformation effect relates to eyewitness testimony and the importance of research on this subject and ways that the misinformation effect can be reduced in the future to help legitimize eyewitness testimonies. How Does Memory Work? Memory today has been defined as a structure through which information is continually passing through. As the information moves in and out of these structures, it is affected by earlier or later memories. There are three types of memory that each human being has: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Sensory memory is when you observe the physical characteristics of things and decide if that is something that will go into your short-term memory. The stimulus seen for your sensory memory is usually forgotten in about one second. The second is short-term memory, which you can think of as a temporary storage with a limited amount of space available for events to be accurately held there. Stimulus in short term memory is forgotten in about twenty seconds. The last type of memory is long-term memory, which has an infinite amount of space available for storage. Information stored here can be forgotten over a period of hours, days, months, or years (Yarmey 61). 1
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The Misinformation Effect The misinformation effect is not a new phenomenon and deals with long term memories. It has been tested and retested numerous times since the 1970’s. The misinformation effect occurs when someone witnesses an event; the event can range from a simple movie to a robbery or car crash. After someone has seen an event they may hear or see things that contradict what they actually have seen. This information can be in the form of police questioning, reading a newspaper about the event, or simply talking to friends about what they have seen. These sources of information can bias, distort, or cause the person to forget what actually happened during the event (Yarmey 3). There are two types of ways misinformation can be introduced into memory. The first way is through presuppositions, in which a person makes a statement presumimng that an event happened. For instance, you may ask “Did you see the robber with the green hat?”
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