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Memory Research Discussion Essay

2006 words - 8 pages

Memory Research Discussion Works Cited Not Included Much of the traditional laboratory research on memory conducted in the
past century has followed Ebbinghaus (1895) in using tightly
controlled experiments that facilitate the quantification of memory
(see Baddeley, 1990; Schacter, 1989). This tradition has been strongly
criticized in the past two decades, however, most notably by Neisser
(1978), who provocatively dismissed the laboratory research of the
past 100 years as largely worthless for answering "the important
questions about memory," and called for a shift to the "realistic"
study of memory. Since Neisser's call, there has been a growing number
of studies on such varied topics as autobiographical memory,
eyewitness testimony, prospective memory, "flashbulb" memory, memory
for action, memory for faces, memory for places, etc. (see, e.g.,
Cohen, 1989; This new wave of everyday memory research has resulted in
a proliferation of research methods that are quite removed from those
traditionally employed in the laboratory.

The rift between proponents of naturalistic and laboratory memory
research, as well as efforts at reconciliation, may be seen in the
lively debate) sparked by Banaji and Crowder's (1989) paper. It is
apparent from the commentaries that "everyday memory" is an
ill-defined category (Klatzky, 1991), and that the dimensions of the
controversy are not simple to specify. In general, the battles appear
to be raging on three distinct fronts: what memory phenomena should be
studied, how they should be studied, and where.

For some researchers the major issue seems to involve the content
("what") of memory research. This is reflected, for example, in the
title of Neisser's (1978) leading paper, "Memory: What are the
important questions." Thus, everyday memory research has been
characterized by its attempt to understand "the sorts of things people
do every day" (Neisser, 1991, p. 35), by its choice of topics having
"obvious relevance to daily life" (Klatzky, 1991, p. 43), and in
particular, by its concern with the practical applications of memory
research (e.g., Gruneberg & Morris, 1992). This is in contrast to the
alleged irrelevance of traditional memory research, which has "chiefly
focused on explicit recognition or recall of isolated items from
lists" (Neisser, 1991, p. 35; but see Roediger, 1991).

Other discussions have treated the controversy as being over the
proper research policy (the "how" question), that is, about "the most
valuable ways of gaining knowledge...

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