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 accurate depictions of our past experiences. Evidence can be seen in the following two studies that support these arguments by examining episodic memory in humans. The first study is by Loftus and Pickrell (1995) who found that memory can be modified by suggestions. The second study is by Naveh-Benjamin and Craik (1995) who found that there is a predisposition for memory to decline with increasing age.
Human memory is highly susceptible to modifications due to the compelling nature of false memories. This causes the recollection of events to be different from the way they happened or to be non-existent. (Roediger, Jacoby and McDermott, 1996). The first study by Loftus and Pickrell (1995) was to understand and determine if human’s episodic memory, which is the recollection of past events in their thoughts and feelings at that point of time, could be modified by suggestive information. (Wheeler, Stuss and Tulving, 1997). The independent variables were the types of information (3 true and 1 false) given to the subjects in the booklet. The dependent variables were the memory recall during the interviews, clarity ratings of the memory and confidence ratings in the ability to recall more detail if given more time. 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....