Two factors, which can influence reconstructive memory, is past experience or previous knowledge (Schemas). Schemas are knowledge packages built up through experience of the world, which can aid the interpretation of new information. Due to previous experiences one would be familiar with a typical restaurant i. e. tables, waiter etc, so this is a restaurant schema.
Cohen (1993) suggested ways in which schemas affect memory, such as when remembering new information we tend to forget the details, which do not fit in with our schema, schemas can also help fill in missing information and sometimes our schemas can distort memories to fit in with prior expectations. We can store central features of an event without having to store the exact details; also schemas can help us give a correct guess.
Many other studies into schemas and reconstructive memory such as Brewer and Treyens (1981) discovered that objects which were considered bizarre in comparison to certain environments (a bouncy castle in a office) had the highest count of recall. One in study into repression by Levinger and Clark (1961), had the aim to investigate the retrieval of associations to words that were emotionally charged, compared with the retrieval of the association to neutral words.
Another aim was to see if negative emotionally charged words, would be harder to recall due to repression, the study would help support the idea that our subconscious keeps certain memories from our conscious awareness. There were several procedures of the study; firstly the participants were given different words some negative emotionally charged while others were positively emotionally charged and the rest were neutral. Another procedure was to time the time taken to recall the words, so they could compare the length of time of recall of different charged words.
The third procedure was to give the participants the original cue words immediately after the word associations had been generated and ask the participants to recall their associated words. Bowlby developed a theory a to explain attachment which proposed attachment is adaptive, innate (natural instinct) and reciprocal (interactions). Infants also innate care giving through innate social releases due to responsive adults. Infants form a monotropy, so they develop an internal working model and the continuity hypothesis.
An alternative concept is the Learning Theory is an explanation for how attachments form suggested from using the principles of conditioning. “Classical Conditioning” is when the stimulus of food produces a response of pleasure; the provider of the food becomes a source of pleasure. “Operate Conditioning” is when an infant assumes food is a reward or a primary reinforcer, the mother becomes associated with the food and is the secondary reinforcer.
Eyewitness testimony investigates the accuracy of memory following a crime or an incident worth interrogating and the types of errors made in such situations. Sometimes eyewitness testimony can be unreliable, which can lead to horrific consequences in a court of law for example, hence many Psychologists have studied and theorized why this happens. Bartlett (1932) performed a study to investigate the effects of unfamiliarity on an old folk story. Bartlett read an American story to English participants and then asked them to recall it 20 hours later, then again more times.
He found that when the story was retold, the participants cultural and literacy background affected it the story when recalled, and when later recalled the changes became more prominent over time. This help proved Bartlett’s theory that when we encode it, we change it, by our own experiences and culture upbringing to make it easier to remember, so it becomes a Reconstructed Memory. Though Schemas are good on helping us predict, remember and understand our environment, other studies have found that they hinder our eyewitness testimony.
Brewer and Treyens (1981) investigated what effects schemas had on our visual memory, they created and office which contained 61 objects, but some of these were not typical office objects, there were items such as bricks and a skull. They were given a surprise recall test, the test showed participants remembered the typical office items better then the bricks etc, but approx 1/4 remember the bizarre skull! The errors in recall were substitutes, such as other typical office equipment such as pens telephones.