Forensic psychology
Forensic psychology

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Forensic psychology

1.1.3 What you think you know about your memory

Following are some questions your to check understanding of how your mind works. Don’t worry, this is not a test, but instead an opportunity to explore some common myths about memory and other mental processes. Try not to reveal teh answer until you've tried to answer the question at least once.

Activity 1.2 Your own memory

Allow about 15 minutes

Q1. Which of the following is impossible?

a. 

To recognise someone, but not remember where you know them from.


b. 

To recognise someone, even though you have not seen them for 20 years.


c. 

To recognise someone and remember their name, but not remember any other information about them.


d. 

To fail to recognise someone because they have changed their hairstyle.


The correct answer is c.

c. 

Well done! Psychological research on face recognition has found that if you can remember someone’s name, you will also remember other information about them such as where you know them from.


Q2. Which of the following statements is true?

a. 

When you learn something new, old memories must be deleted to make room for the new knowledge.


b. 

It is not possible to remember a phone number that contains more than 13 digits.


c. 

Remembering one piece of information can trigger a memory of a different piece of information.


d. 

As colours are ‘objective’ (e.g. red is red and blue is blue) we remember them accurately and different people will remember them in exactly the same way.


The correct answer is c.

c. 

Well done! This is a process you have undoubtedly experienced. Hearing a piece of information makes our minds activate links to similar pieces of information, allowing us to recall something we previously could not remember.


Q3. Although people might forget details, our memories always retain the order in which things happen.

a. 

True


b. 

False


The correct answer is b.

b. 

Well done! We can forget both details and the order in which things happen. In fact, we can be particularly bad at remembering the order of events. Rather than remember things based on the order they happen, our minds extract meaning from the world around us and make links between things based on this meaning. This can be very useful when it comes to interpreting what we see and guessing what will happen next, but means order is not necessarily preserved.


Q4. Can a memory of something that never happened be implanted into someone’s mind?

a. 

Yes, this is fairly easy to do.


b. 

Yes, but only by using electrodes.


c. 

Not yet, but this might be possible with future technology.


d. 

No, this is impossible.


The correct answer is a.

a. 

Research has found that we can be very ‘suggestible’ and are able to form memories of things that didn’t happen if these are suggested by someone else.


Q5. Which of the following is the best description of human memory?

a. 

It is like a video recorder, where information recorded in the past can be played back in the future.


b. 

It is like computer memory, where information can be entered and stored in memory and ‘chunks’ of memory can be accurately retrieved at any point in the future.


c. 

It is like a library, where different memories are stored in different books.


d. 

It is like a story that is not written down but told from person to person, and constantly changes each time it is told.


The correct answer is d.

d. 

Although it is impossible to capture the intricacies, sophistication and complexity of human memory in a simple analogy, of those listed here, this is probably the most accurate description. Our memories do change over time, can be different each time we remember them and certainly can change dramatically when shared with another person.


FPSY_1

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