PSCH 352, Summer 2005
Notes, 6/23/05

Reconstructive memory, schema, scripts, and semantic integration

When we talked about retrieval from episodic LTM, we mainly focused on
reproductive recall, the memory for exact words and phrases.  Now we will talk
about reconstructive recall, the memory for the gist, or general idea, of some kind
of complex stimuli, including books and movies.

A classic study of reconstructive memory: Bartlett (1932)



-the study showed evidence for reconstructive memory, in which the original
  material is combined with existing knowledge to form a memory

Schema: a stored framework or body of general knowledge about some topic
plural: schemata

Schemata can be helpful: Dooling & Lachman (1971)

Schemata can cause memory distortions: Owens, Bower, & Black (1979)

-Owens, Bower, and Black found
1. a positive effect of schema:
2. a negative effect of schema:

How do schemata develop?  Semantic integration (Bransford & Franks, 1971)
 -semantic integration occurs when related pieces of information become linked in memory


Bottom line:
-We very rarely remember things word-for-word, with the exception of things we’ve
practiced many times, like the pledge of allegiance or song lyrics.  Memory tends to be
reconstructive, and we are more likely to remember the gist of something.  We use
pre-existing schemata and scripts to help us to remember information.  Usually these
schemata and scripts are helpful, but sometimes they can lead to memory distortions.

Good Memory

1. autobiographical memory
-Bahrick, Bahrick, & Wittlinger (1975) tested Ss for memory of names and pictures of
  high school classmates

2. flashbulb memory (Brown & Kulik, 1977)
-Brown and Kulik (1977) noticed that people tend to have very good recall for events
that are surprising and consequential to them; for example, the assassination of JFK.

-Brown & Kulik's canonical variables for flashbulb memory

-Mixed evidence for FB memory

-Issues for FB memory research


Poor Memory

1. false memory (Roediger & McDermott, 1995)
    study 1:
    study 2:
     study 1:
     study 2:

2. leading questions and memory distortion (Loftus & Palmer, 1974)