False Memory-Construct an APA-style report for any one of the “ZAPS” experiments completed by the class-How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?” The other question was, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?

Assignment Question

Directions: “For this choice you will construct an APA-style report for any one of the “ZAPS” experiments completed by the class. This report will include 5 main sections. The introduction presents related work in the field and the motivation for doing the experiment in question. You will be responsible for researching the literature related to the topic. Ideally, your introduction will discuss both current and older experiments related to the topic at hand. The method section provides demographic information about the subjects and describes the materials and procedures used to conduct the experiment. The results section usually presents the statistical analysis used to evaluate the data. However, in this case, the results section will include a graph of the relevant data plus a description of the important results depicted by the graph. You will get this information from the ZAPS program. The discussion section presents the empirical and theoretical significance of the data. In addition, you should describe whether the data produced by the class matches the data typically observed in the literature and provide an explanation for any discrepancies. Finally, the reference page should list the works cited in the other four sections.” About: “Memories are imperfect; they can be forgotten or distorted. The purpose of this experiment was to show one way that our minds can create false memories. The task you completed comes from a test that researchers use to study memory illusions, which is known as the Deese–Roediger–McDermott or DRM procedure, named after the researchers who initially developed it (Deese, 1959) and later refined it (Roediger & McDermott, 1995). When trying to recall a series of words, participants generally recall seeing the critical lure along with words that actually appeared in the original series. People even report feeling very confident that they indeed saw the critical lure in the original list (Gallo & Roediger, 2002). These false memories arise because our memory system stores information efficiently by using schemas—cognitive structures that helps us perceive, organize, process, and use information.

For instance, you probably have a schema about what to expect when you enter an airport or a restaurant, or participate in an event such as a birthday party. This might consist of the guests entering, unwrapping gifts, singing a birthday song, and eating cake. Our schemas help us navigate the world efficiently. They help us anticipate highly predictable things (like cake at a birthday party), but they might also cause us to falsely remember that a predictable thing occurred when it did not (perhaps the birthday party had cookies instead of cake). The words in each series in this experiment were all meaningfully related to a schema. The strength of the relationship between the lure word and the schema is the strongest factor in determining whether it will be falsely recalled (Roediger et al., 2001). This type of memory distortion is referred to as suggestibility, which is defined as the development of false memories from misleading information. One real-life application of the research on suggestibility and false memories is related to eyewitness testimony in court cases. Loftus and Palmer (1974) conducted a classic study in which they asked undergraduates to watch a short film clip of a car accident. They then queried the students about their memory of the film clip. One of the questions was, “How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?” The other question was, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” Although both groups viewed the same accident on film, not only did the “smashed” group give a higher miles-per-hour (mph) estimate, they were also more likely to misremember having seen broken glass when asked about the film a week later. This is one of a series of experiments showing that information presented after witnessing an event can influence the memory of the event. Seeing the word “smashed” on the initial questionnaire influenced people to think that the accident was more severe, thus leading to higher mph ratings and a tendency to remember broken glass (even though there had not been any). As you would expect from what you’ve already learned about schemas and false memory, we tend to misremember information that is consistent with our schema for an event. In the case of a car accident, people are more likely to (mistakenly) remember seeing broken glass afterward than to remember that they saw a clown get out of one of the cars.


Deese, J. (1959). On the prediction of occurrence of particular verbal intrusions in immediate recall. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58, 17–22. Gallo, D. A., & Roediger, H. L. (2002). Variability among word lists in eliciting memory illusions: Evidence for associative activation and monitoring. Journal of Memory and Language, 47(3), 469–497. Loftus, E. F., & Palmer, J. C. (1974). Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 13(5), 585–589. Roediger, H. L., Watson, J. M., McDermott, K. B., & Gallo, D. A. (2001). Factors that determine false recall: A multiple regression analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(3), 385–407.”