In PSY-452: Experimental Psychology in Topic 8 you completed the Research Report assignment. In this course you will revise components from the PSY-452 assignment and use those revised components to create a research proposal at the end of this course. You should treat this assignment as a potential portfolio piece or writing sample for future grad school applications or job interview. In 1,250-1,500 words, revise the literature review from the PSY-452 Research Report.
Title: Identifying the Psychological Factors Shaping Memory Retrieval
The ability to encode, store, and retrieve information is fundamental to human cognition. Understanding the processes involved in memory retrieval is of great importance as it offers insights into how individuals retrieve and reconstruct past events, as well as how memory can be affected by various psychological factors. This literature review aims to critically examine and analyze existing research on the psychological factors that shape memory retrieval. By exploring the contributions of cognitive processes, emotions, and individual differences, this review will shed light on the complexities of memory retrieval.
Cognitive processes play a vital role in memory retrieval. One key cognitive process is the encoding specificity principle, proposed by Tulving and Thomson (1973). This principle suggests that the retrieval of information is more successful when the conditions at the time of encoding are reinstated during retrieval. Studies examining this principle have consistently supported its validity, with research demonstrating enhanced memory retrieval when the context during encoding and retrieval matched (Tulving & Pearlstone, 1966). This finding has important implications for real-life situations, such as witness testimonies, where memory can be influenced by the environmental context during retrieval.
In addition to context, the role of attention during encoding also impacts memory retrieval. Attentional processes guide the selection and prioritization of stimuli for encoding, thereby influencing later retrieval (Craik & Tulving, 1975). Research by Craik and Lockhart (1972) introduced the levels of processing framework, which argues that deeper processing of information leads to better memory retrieval. Supporting this framework, studies have consistently shown that semantic processing, which involves relating information to personal experiences or generating meaning, enhances memory retention compared to shallow processing (Craik & Tulving, 1975; Hyde & Jenkins, 1973).
Emotions have been shown to have a profound impact on memory retrieval. At a basic level, emotional arousal can enhance memory by enhancing attention and increasing the release of stress hormones, such as adrenaline, that promote memory consolidation (McGaugh, 2004). However, while emotional events can be highly memorable, they can also lead to memory distortions. The phenomenon of flashbulb memories, which are vivid and highly detailed memories of emotionally arousing events, has been extensively studied. Research by Neisser and Harsch (1992) found that flashbulb memories of the Challenger space shuttle disaster were often inaccurate when compared to initial reports. These findings suggest that even emotionally charged events can be subject to memory distortions over time.
Another important aspect of emotional influences on memory retrieval is the role of valence. Studies have consistently shown that emotional stimuli with negative valence are often better remembered than positive or neutral stimuli (Kensinger, 2007). This valence effect has been attributed to the evolutionary significance of negative events, as they may signal potential threats and require heightened attention and encoding (Kensinger & Corkin, 2004). Additionally, the amygdala, a key brain structure involved in emotion regulation, has been found to enhance memory consolidation for emotionally arousing events (Phelps & LeDoux, 2005).
It is well-established that memory capabilities vary between individuals, leading to differences in memory retrieval. Age-related changes in memory functioning have been extensively studied, with older adults often showing deficits in episodic memory retrieval compared to younger adults (Park et al., 2002). These age-related declines have been attributed to structural and functional changes in the brain, such as reduced hippocampal volume and altered neural connectivity (Raz et al., 2005). Understanding these age-related changes is crucial for developing interventions aimed at improving memory retrieval in older adults.
Individual differences in personality traits also impact memory retrieval. Research has shown that extraversion, a trait associated with sociability and positive affect, is related to better memory recall (Donahue et al., 2016). This relationship can be explained by the attentional bias theory, which suggests that extraverts are more likely to pay attention to and encode social information, leading to better memory retrieval. In contrast, introverts may allocate more attention to internal processes and exhibit a greater focus on self-referential thought, potentially impairing memory retrieval for external events (Ashton, 1990).
In conclusion, memory retrieval is a complex process influenced by various psychological factors. Cognitive processes, such as encoding specificity and attention, play a crucial role in determining the success of memory retrieval. Emotions can enhance or distort memory retrieval depending on factors such as arousal and valence. Additionally, individual differences, including age-related changes and personality traits, contribute to variations in memory retrieval abilities. By understanding these psychological factors, researchers can develop strategies to improve memory retrieval and mitigate memory distortions in different populations. Further research is needed to explore the intricacies of memory retrieval and its potential applications in educational, clinical, and forensic settings.