The Reliability of Memory

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According to Sternberg (1999), memory is the extraction of past experiences for information to be used in the present. The retrieval of memory is essential in every aspect of daily life, whether it is for academics, work or social purposes. However, many often take memory for granted and assume that it can be relied on because of how realistic it appears in the mind. This form of memory is also known as flashbulb memory. (Brown and Kulik, 1977). The question of whether our memory is reliably accurate has been shown to have implications in providing precise details of past events. (The British Psychological Association, 2011). In this essay, I would put forth arguments that human memory, in fact, is not completely reliable in providing …show more content…
The subjects involved 3 males and 21 females, ranging in age from 18 to 53. They were selected based on their relative member having a good knowledge about their childhood experiences.

Subjects were given a booklet containing brief descriptions of 3 true events and 1 false event that supposedly occurred when they were 4 to 6 years old. These were based on information provided by the relative and subjects were instructed to record what they could remember. Following which, 2 consecutive interviews were held around 2 weeks apart, and the subjects were asked to rate their clarity and confidence ratings on a scale of 1-10 and 1-5 respectively.
Results showed that 29% of the subjects “remembered” the false event, whether it is partially or completely when they first read the booklet. During the subsequent 2 interviews, 25% of the subjects insisted that they “remembered” the false event. Moreover, the mean clarity rating for the false memory increased from 2.8 to 3.6 respectively for the first and second interview. This showed that there are various ways in which one can be led to remember their past, and even be encouraged to “remember” non-existent events. Although most of the subjects succeeded in remembering 68% of the true events with higher confidence and clarity ratings, this did not indicate that they were not confused earlier on to believe that the false

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