Cognitive Level of Analysis

The Research Studies related to the CLOA.
Be smart, use ⌘F / Ctrl F please.

Glanzer & Cunitz – Primacy and recency experiment (Multi-store model)
[A] Test primacy-recency effect.
  • Participants were asked to read a series of 20 words.
  • They were then asked to recall the 20 words in any order.
  • In another variation, a distraction task was performed before recall.
  • Participants remembered the the first and last few words better.
  • Results reliably fall into a pattern known as the “serial position curve”.
  • First few words – because they had more time to rehearse the words, encoding them into their long term memory store.
  • Last few words – because it is still in the short term memory store.
  • In the variation, the last few words were not recalled because of loss through decay.
  • Provides evidence for multi-store model of memory.
  • Low in ecological validity, lab environment.
  • Ignored participant’s understanding of the words.
  • Only one culture tested
  • Education in some cultures may train students to remember things.

Tali Sharot – 9/11 Flashbulb Memory (Flashbulb Memory)
[A] Investigate upon the existence of Flashbulb Memory.
  • 24 witnesses of the 9/11 incident were found from different location of Manhattan as subjects.
  • Subjects were placed in an fMRI machine.
  • Subjects were asked to recall the event of 9/11.
  • Subjects were also asked to recall their summer holiday (for control purpose).
  • People closer to where the event happened (where the World Trade Center was) had a more in-depth recall of the event.
  • When compared to subject’s summer holiday, the level of detail given for 9/11 incident was higher.
  • Parahippocampal Gyrus (Para-hippo-campal Gy-rus – responsible for LTM retrieval) was relatively inactive when recalling memories from 9/11 when compared to recalling events from summer holiday.
  • Amygdala (responsible for processing memory of emotional reaction) was relatively more active when recalling memories from 9/11.
  • Different part of the brain was used for different Flashbulb Memory retrieval and general LTM retrieval.
  • Supports Flashbulb Memory as a different type of memory than LTM.
  • Collectivist culture – tend to suppress emotion, memory encoded at a shallow level.
  • Individualist culture – encouraged to express emotion, memory encoded at a deeper level (Levels of processing theory – Craik & Lockhart).
  • Observing the concentration of deoxygenated haemoglobin is an accurate measure for brain activity.
  • Ecologically valid. Questions were asked about real life situations.
  • May argue that it is still laboratory condition, overtly observing may cause Demand Characteristics.
  • Pressure under lab conditions may cause alteration of results.
  • Possible confirmation bias.
  • No cause-and-effect relationship can be established through the scan.
  • Relies heavily upon the interpretation of the researcher.
  • The Amygdala showing response may well be the subject’s expression of depressed emotion while recalling 9/11.
  • Ethical considerations: Privacy of the subjects may be invaded because the fMRI indicates a general representation of their thought process.

Frederic Bartlett – War Of The Ghosts study (Schema)
[A] Prove that memory is reconstructive and schemas influence recall.
Demonstrate role of culture in schema processing.
  • Participants were British students.
  • Participants were presented with a Native American folk story.
  • The participants were then asked to recite the story multiples times after certain time frames.
  • No participants knew the aim and purpose of the task.
  • The participants’ recalled version of the story left out or replaced details related to Native American Culture
    e.g. Canoe -> Boat.
  • The British students filled in the gaps in their memory with their own cultural schema.
  • Average word count of the recalled story dropped from 330 words to 180 words.
  • People reconstruct the past by trying to fit it into existing schemas.
  • More complex the information, the more likely elements are forgotten/distorted.
  • People try to find a familiar pattern in experiences, past or new.
  • People uses existing schemas to fill in the gaps of their memory, subconsciously.
  • Memory, according to Bartlett, is an imaginative reconstruction of experience.
  • Methodology not sophisticated.
  • No IV, DV or Control.
  • Making it difficult to measure or compare outcome.
  • Emic approach: Result specific to European American and Native American culture.
  • Low potential generalising ability.

Loftus & Palmer – Car crash study (Reconstructive memory)
[A] To prove the unreliability of memory.
  • 45 students were shown videos of car crashes.
  • They were then asked a series of questions about the specifics of the car crashes.
  • The critical question was “About how fast was the cars going when they hit each other?”
  • The verb “hit” was replaced with “Smashed”, “Collided”, “Bump” and “Contacted” for different participants.
  • Those who were asked with “Smashed” averaged the mean speed of 40.8 mph.
  • Those who were asked with “Contacted” averaged the mean speed of 31.8 mph.
  • The phrasing of the question brought a change in speed estimated.
  • Due to schema activated by the chose verb.
  • Shows schema can affect memory.
  • Shows the unreliability of reconstructive memory.
  • Confounding variable: Presumed ability to perceive the velocity of moving object.
  • Demand characteristics: Participants corrected their original answer according to the chosen verb.
  • Student sample. not enough to generalise to the mass population.
  • Ecological validity: Low, car crash was not real, therefore less emotion was involved affecting the level of detail retained.
  • Unethical and unfeasible to create real car crashes.
  • Forced participants to watch graphic car crashes.
  • Participants are generally desensitised because of the media.
  • No distress due to watching car crashes reported.

Montague – Neuromarketing study (fMRI)
[A] Investigate cognition of consumers’ preferences.
  • Invited 70 participants to a blind taste test of Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
  • Participants were asked to rate the two after the blind test.
  • They were then placed into the fMRI machine for scanning their brain activity.
  • Pepsi was by far the most preferred drink in the blind test.
  • The Ventral Putamen, part of the brain’s pleasure center, lit up more in the fMRI scans when tasting Pepsi.
  • Findings do not match with the general public’s preference of Coca-Cola over Pepsi.
  • fMRI scans (neuroplasticity technology) can be used for identifying consumer preferences.
  • Sample size not big enough to represent the nation.
  • Ethical considerations: Confidentiality problems.
  • Thoughts and preferences should personal and private.

LeDoux – Fear in rats experiment (Biological factors in emotion)
[A] Investigate the role of the amygdala.
  • Rats were conditioned to feel fear when they hear the sound of a bell.
  • Assumption that the brian has made a connection between the bell and fear.
  • LeDoux lesioned the rats to find out which part of the brain made the connection between the bell and fear.
  • After several lesions, they removed the Auditory Thalamus.
  • The rats did not show respond to the bell with fear anymore.
  • In further studies, they found out that lesions on one site of the amygdala was able to stop blood pressure from rising.
  • This shows that there are biological interactions with emotions.
  • Unethical study
  • Induced feat in subjects, caused mental harm.
  • Performed lesioning on subjects, cause physical harm.
  • Subjects did not have rights to withdraw.

Anderson & Pichert – Car crash study (Reconstructive memory)
[A] Investigate if schema processing influences both encoding and retrieval.
  • Participants listened to a story about a house that was left empty on thursdays.
  • There were 72 points in this story related to either a House-buyer or a Burglar schema.
  • These include leaky roofs, damp basements and colour TV, rare coin collection etc.
  • Half the participants were asked to read the story from a House-buyer point of view.
  • The other half were asked to read it from a Burglar point of view.
  • They then performed a distracting task for 12 minutes before recalling the story.
  • Then there was another 5 minutes of delay before they recalled the story again.
  • This time half of the participants were asked to recall the story in the other character’s point of view.
  • (e.g. Burglar changes to House-buyer, vise versa)
  • Participants in changed schema group recalled 7% more points than first recall.
  • Recall points that were directly linked to new schema increased by 10%.
  • Recall points linked to previous schema dropped.
  • Participants that did not change schema groups recalled less than the first trial.
  • People encode information which was irrelevant to their prevailing schema
  • Schema influenced both encoding and retrieval.
  • The second schema activated in the second retrieval triggered the recall of the other details of the story.
  • Supports the schema theory because it shows how activating different schemas can trigger different parts of memory.
  • The participants that encoded with schema 1 were still able to recall specific details for schema 2.
  • This shows that schema not only influence encoding but also retrieval.
  • Ecological validity: Low, carried out in lab conditions.
  • The control established a cause and effect relationship on how schema affect different memory process.
  • Those who changed and didn’t change schemas.

Schachter & Singer – Injection study (Two Factor Theory of Emotion)
[A] Show that both cognition and biological factors interact with emotion.
  • 184 male college students participated in the experiment. They were taken to a private room.
  • The experimenter told them the aim of the experiment was to see “the effect of vitamin injection on visual skills”.
  • Deception: In actual fact the aim of the experiment was to test the Two Factor Theory of Emotion.
  • The participants were given either a placebo shot (with no side effects) or an adrenalin shot.
  • The effects was increased heart rates, blood pressure, blood sugar level and respiration.
  • The effects started showing at 3 minutes and lasted for 10 minutes to an hour.
  • Participants were put into one of the 4 experimental conditions.
  • 1. Adrenalin ignorant – participants with adrenalin were not told of the effects.
    2. Adrenalin informed – participants were informed with the side effects so they were prepared.
    3. Adrenalin misinformed – participants were not informed with the true side effects.
    4. Control – placebo injection without being told what side effects to expect.

  • Participants were then assigned either
  • Euphoria (feeling of happy) condition – Assistant in the waiting room carried out silly actions to entertain participants.
  • Anger condition – Assistant in the waiting room annoyed the participant.
  • Researchers observed through one-way mirror.
  • Participants filled in a self appraisal form.
  • Euphoria condition
  • Misinformed participants were feeling happier than all other groups.
  • Ignorant participants were the second happiest.
  • Anger condition
  • Ignorant participants felt the angriest.
  • Placebo participants felt the second angriest.
  • Participants were more influenced by the assistant because they had no explanation for the emotion high.
  • Leads to a wrong labeling of the physiological responses.
  • Supports the Two Factor Theory of Emotion.
  • Physiological arousal in different emotion is entirely the same.
  • We label our arousal according to cognition.
  • Cannot fully evaluate the feeling of emotional arousal.
  • Leading to misattribution
  • Influenced by surrounding situation.
  • Observations and self appraisal of emotion was subjective.
  • Measurements were rudimentary, only pulse was measured.
  • Low in ecologically validity
  • Lab experiment, unlikely to have a sudden emotional arousal.
  • Emotion arousal might be caused by external stimuli (i.e. the other way around).
  • Unethical: Induced anger and aggression in participants.

Craik & Tulving – Levels of Processing study
[A] Test the theory of Levels of Processing.
  • Participants were presented with 60 words and one of three questions to the words.
  • The questions were designed to activate different levels of processing.
  • e.g. Is the word in capital or small letters? (Structural processing).
  • e.g. What is the meaning of this word? (Semantic processing).
  • Participants were then given a pool of 180 words in which the original 60 words were mixed into.
  • They had to pick out the original 60.
  • Participants mostly picked out words that were asked with questions that triggered Semantic processing.
  • Shows that Semantic processing can lead to better recall.
  • Confounding variable
  • Serial positioning effect: Words that were at the end of the list will still be in the participant’s STM.
  • Understanding of words: Participants might not understand the words therefore taking longer to rehearse the word.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.

The case study of Clive Wearing (Brain damage)
  • Suffered damage in Hippocampus due to a contraction of a virus.
  • His disease left him with extensive brain damage (parts of his temporal lobes).
  • Suffers from Retrograde and Anterograde amnesia.
  • MRI scanning show damage to the hippocampus and some of frontal regions.
  • Episodic memory and some of his semantic memory are lost.
  • He can still play piano, conduct music and remember his wife.
  • He still has his implicit memory including his emotional memory for his wife.
  • Ecological validity: High, study of a real life case.
  • Low potential ability to generalise because cases are individual.
  • Ethics: Patient’s name was disclosed under consent.

Hodges et al. – Study of memory of Alzheimer patients
  • Measured semantic memory in AD patients with tasks such as naming pictures of animals and objects.
  • Steady decline in semantic memory observed.

Rime et al. – Study on the sharing of emotional experiences
  • 20% of Koreans (collectivist country) never shared their emotional experiences.
  • Compared to only 5% in the US (individualist country).
  • Suppression of emotional experiences can lead to memory impairment.

Richards & Gross – Emotion in movie study (Cognitive Costs)
[A] Investigate whether the regulation of emotion will affect memory.
  • 53 subjects were split into 2 groups
  • One group was told to suppress their emotion while watching a film about and argument between two parents with the presence of a little girl.
  • The other group was asked to watch the film.
  • The group that was suppressing their emotion throughout the film (regulation of emotion) had poor recall.
  • Did a natural observation and compared the memory of those who regulate and freely express their emotions.
  • Those who express their emotions have better memory.
  • The Cognitive Cost of regulating emotions took up the capacity for memory encoding.
  • Not enough attention was paid to watching the film.
  • Ecological validity was low in the initial experiment, because it was in lab conditions.
  • Offered a controlled environment, results acted as a reference for their next natural observation.
  • Repeated experiment in natural conditions, increase in ecological validity.
  • Uses previous results as reference because it has not confounding variable.
  • Methodology not scientific, makes the assumption that regulating emotion took up the capacity of memory encoding.

Loftus – Lost in the Mall experiment (False Memory)
[A] Attempt to implant false memory.
  • Loftus told participants 4 stories of their own childhood that supposedly were all from members for the family.
  • In the 4 stories, one of which is false.
  • The false story describes the participants being lost in a mall at a young age for an extended period of time.
  • The mall was based upon participant’s actual trips to the mall.
  • 25% of participants remembered that no such event happened.
  • Many other participants were able to provide details for the false events.
  • Loftus concluded that the act of imagining the event created false memory.
  • Getting lost in a mall is common.
  • Prove that false memory can be induced.
  • Confounding variable: Did not take into account that the participant actually had a similar event happened to them.
  • Low in ecological validity, lab experiment
  • Cultural factors.
  • LTM store is triggered meaning that emotion must be involved.
  • Different culture might express different level of emotional arousal.
  • Can affect the strength of the imagined event turning into a false memory.
  • Ethical considerations
  • Might cause ethical issues regarding therapy retrieving repressed memory.
  • Unreliable because therapist can induce false memory into clients.

Mosconi – Alzheimer longitudinal study
[A] To find the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.
  • Kept track of 53 normal subjects for over 9 to 24 years
  • Scanned them using a PET scanner (measures metabolic rate)
  • Those who had reduced metabolic rate in the Hippocampus developed into Alzheimer disease.
  • Shows that technology can pick up initial signs of brain deterioration.
  • Using technology can provide accurate results.
  • Ethical consideration: Causes physical harm in subjects
  • Injection of radioactive substance is bad for the body

Maguire et al. – Taxi driver study
[A] Investigate the function of Hippocampus in spacial memory.
  • Participants were 16 mentally and physically healthy right handed male taxi drivers.
  • Age range from 32 to 62.
  • Controls were 50 mentally and physically healthy right handed male.
  • Age range and distribution was similar to the taxi drivers.
  • Participants and controls were scanned with the same MRI machine.
  • The amount and density of the grey matter in the hippocampus (which translates into the processors) was counted.
  • Taxi drivers have a significantly larger hippocampus.
  • The volume of the hippocampus correlates with the amount of time as a taxi driver.
  • MRI can be used to detect the active areas of the brain.
  • Observing the concentration of deoxygenated haemoglobin is an accurate measure for brain activity.

Spiesman et al. – Audio track interfering with emotion
[A] Prove the Theory of Appraisal can interfere with emotion.
  • Participants were shown a documentary of an unpleasant traditional ritual.
  • There were three groups of participants.
  • Group 1: Trauma group
  • They were shown the documentary with a soundtrack that emphasized the pain.
  • Group 2: Denial group
  • They were shown the documentary with a soundtrack which suggested that the ritual was joyful and happy.
  • Group 3: Intellectualisation group
  • They were shown the documentary with a soundtrack that gave an anthropological interpretation of the ritual.
  • Participants reacted more emotionally in the Trauma group when compared with the other two.
  • Because they evaluated the situation (painful soundtrack).
  • Thought it was appropriate to display negative emotions because situation showed potential harm.
  • Shows that through appraising the situation, different emotions can be displayed with the same stimuli.
  • Hence showing the Theory of Appraisal (cognition) can interfere with emotion.
  • Ecological validity: Low, lab conditions.
  • Controlled environment, removes confounding variable.

Harsch & Neisser – Challenger study (Flashbulb Memory)
[A] Evaluate the theory and the existence of Flashbulb Memory.
  • Study was done based upon the “Challenger” Space Shuttle incident.
  • 24 hours after the incident, subjects were asked about what they remembered.
  • Similar questions on their memory of the event was asked after 3 years.
  • They were also asked to rate their confidence with their accuracy of recall.
  • 3 of 44 students had perfect recall.
  • 25% had completely inaccurate memory.
  • 40% of the subjects had distorted memory.
  • Possibly influenced by post-event information.
  • Subjects were confident with the accuracy of their recall.
  • Challenges the existence of Flashbulb Memory.
  • Could just be reconstructive memory.
  • Assumed that Flashbulb Memory was created.
  • Only relied upon questionnaires to determine whether the memory was Flashbulb.
  • Only students were used, reduced its potential in generalisation.

Schmolck et al. – OJ Simpson study (Flashbulb Memory)
[A] Investigate how memory distort over time.
  • College students were asked how and where they were when they heard the verdict of the case of OJ Simpson.
  • They were then asked to recall after:
  • 3 days
  • 15 months
  • 32 months
  • 15 months – Answers were fairly close to those after 3 days.
  • 11% contained major inaccuracy.
  • 32 months – Lots of details forgotten.
  • 29% recalled accurately.
  • 40% had distortion in recall.
  • Challenges the existence of flashbulb memory.
  • Assumed that Flashbulb Memory was created.
  • Only relied upon questionnaires to determine whether the memory was Flashbulb.
  • Only students were used, reduced its potential in generalisation.