The justice system heavily relies on victim’s statements to create a case against a criminal that has been accused of being involved in a crime. However, there is a considerable room for error with this method, humans are not always correct with their memories and are influenced into remembering something that necessarily didn’t occur. Especially when asked to remember something that has happened hours or days ago.
One way that cognitive psychologists try to measure false memories is by conducting a procedure called the Deese-Roediger- McDermott (DRM) paradigm. This is usually done in a laboratory setting where the participant is presented with lists of words that are semantically associated with the critical lure word (sleep) that is not given, and then an administration of a free recall test. In Read’s (1996) study it adapted the similar methods to a previous study conducted by Appleby (1987) where the participants are presented with a 12-word list – slumber, tired, rest, night, dark, comfort, sound, eat, bed, snore, dream, and awake. This method was initially conducted by Deese (1959), the object in using the DRM paradigm is to see if studying a lure’s associations trigger the likeness in semantic memory. Which results in the increased chance that participants will make mistakes to the lure on the following test which is referred to as the activation monitoring theory.
In Oliver, Bays, and Zubrucky (2016) study the aim was to see the effect of imagery on false memories. This was measured by using 102 undergraduate psychology students; individuals were presented with the 12-word list like the Deese study. However, in Oliver et al. study there were three groups, the first group was measured on semantic associations as well as being asked to imagine the word presented (e.g., imagine what an apple looks like). This was measured by the impoverished relational encoding account which suggests that studying pictures inhibits with the encrypting of relational data which is the fundamental basis for false memories in the DRM. The second group were also measured for semantic associations but were focused on whether the participant used distinctive heuristics to aid them in remembering the words presented to them. Distinctive heuristics infer that critical lures are significantly withheld utilizing a retrieval strategy which refers to when memory is absent it is expected that the information that is associated is taken as evidence for an events non-occurrence. This was done by just the words being presented on a projector without being asked to make an image in mind and then asked to recall the words. The third group is irrelevant to the current study but measured phonological presentation. The results showed that the first group which had to imagine the words scored marginally higher (p= 0.66) but not significant with correct recall and less likely to present the lure word than the other two groups. It was not significant because imagery on its own is not enough to see a change if an autobiographical aspect was drawn upon it would be more likely have higher accuracy on recall and fewer lure words.
The study was based on Reads (1996) study which aimed at determining individual’s ability between illusory and real experiences. This was measured by using 248 students who have presented the same list words used in Appleby’s study. In the study there were three groups, the first one was to measure serial position effect which is irrelevant to the current research. The second group (p=0.73) was to measure elaborative rehearsal which is the method creating meaning to the word being learned. Subjects were told to think about and rehearse the words in ways that would allow them to later answer questions about word meanings (Read). The third group (p=0.75) measured maintenance rehearsal which is repeatedly thinking or verbally saying the word being learned to process it into long-term memory. The participants were asked to try to always remember the last word presented. For all groups recall followed a presentation by a 2-minute maintenance interval, and then instructed to recall the list words. As a result, the recall for the first and second attempts the elaborative-rehearsal group recollected substantially more list words (Ms = 8.34 and 8.21, individually) than the maintenance-rehearsal group (Ms =7.46 and 7.58). However, the overall study presented with a non-significant result of p>0.1, it did not matter what rehearsal method was used, false memories still occurred.
If humans had time to visualize new stimuli that they are presented with, would humans as a species be a beckon of knowledge? Would it be easier for people to remember vast amounts of information if they practiced the right technique? If it was proven to help people retain information, it could lead to how the education system may work and how victims can recollect the scene of a crime. In the current study, the aim is to explore whether the amount of time given to participants to perform the methods of imagery will affect the amount of DRM false memories. In the study there will be three participant groups, the first (fast) group will be given 1.5 seconds between each word presented and asked to visualize each word. The second (moderate) group will be given 5 seconds, and the third (slow group) will be given 10 seconds to visualize the words being presented. It is hypothesized that the participants that are in the slow group will be able to recall more of the word displayed from the list and be less likely to present the lure word. It is also hypothesized that the fast group will make more errors and be more likely to offer the lure word.