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research paper . The topic is memory.

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PSYC 302
Research Project Paper Requirements & Grading Rubric
Your experimental psychology research project is an integral part of your undergraduate education in
psychology. This project is not only an important requirement for this course in psychological research
methods, but it is intended to be a hands-on learning experience so that you can understand
psychological research first-hand. If you take this project somewhat seriously, you should learn a great
deal about research in psychology, APA style, and the trials and rewards of being a researcher.
Overview
The general writing style must conform to APA standards (see the APA Manual). All sections of the paper
are to be written entirely on your own. You are allowed to share references and ideas with your group
members, and I highly encourage you to do so. General information about writing and APA style are
available in the “Research Project” folder in Blackboard, to help you with this assignment. Important
information will also be covered in lecture and lab.
Assignment Submissions: All assignments will be submitted via SafeAssign on the Lecture Blackboard
site. Save your files using your last name and the specific section of the paper in your file name (e.g.,
LastName_Introduction.doc). Also submit your assignment using Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx), Rich
Text Format (.rtf), or Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) files only. If you need more information about SafeAssign, an
information sheet is posted in the Research Project folder of the Lecture BlackBoard site.
Sections: The manuscript is divided into three graded parts: (1) “Title Page, Introduction, & References,”
(2) “Methods,” and (3) “Results, Discussion & Abstract.” More information and a grading rubric/checklist
are provided below.
Details, Grading Rubrics, & Checklists
Grading will be based on these key components, in addition to meeting general APA Style requirements
and using an organized, clear, and concise writing style.
Part I. TITLE PAGE, INTRODUCTION SECTION, & REFERENCES
Worth: 120 points total
Due Date: Listed in syllabus and on Blackboard
The Introduction Section is the introduction of the manuscript, and should go from general to specific.
See Chapter 15 in the textbook, the APA Manual, The Harvard Handbook posted in the “Reading” folder,
and lecture notes for detailed information on how to write this section. This section should be 3-5 pages
in length and contain 3 or more scholarly references, in addition to the “key article” provided for your
project. Thus, you should have at least 4 references total, including your key article and at least 2
additional empirical journal articles. One of your references can be a review article or a book chapter,
as long as it’s a scholarly reference and not intended for a popular audience. Do not rely solely on the
“key article” provided for your project. You must incorporate at least 3 other references in the body of
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your introduction. References must be listed in a separate References section, using APA format. A
separate Title Page should begin the paper, in proper APA format.
GENERAL REQUIREMENTS: 4 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Margins (1 inch on all sides) (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Font (12 point, Times New Roman) (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Double spacing (1 point): Do not include an extra space between paragraphs (default in Word)
_ _ _ _ _ Page numbers (1 point)
APPROPRIATE WRITING STYLE: 12 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Organization
_ _ _ _ _ Sentence structure
_ _ _ _ _ Does not express more than 1 or 2 ideas in a single sentence
_ _ _ _ _ Use of clear examples to clarify abstract points
_ _ _ _ _ Choice of words (clear, concise, direct)
_ _ _ _ _ Do not try to “prove” a theory (rather, “support” a theory)
_ _ _ _ _ Attention to transitions between paragraphs
_ _ _ _ _ Indention of paragraphs (5 spaces)
_ _ _ _ _ Paragraph length (not too long)
_ _ _ _ _ Proper use of quotes (use only when absolutely necessary! Paraphrase results from other
studies)
_ _ _ _ _ Abbreviations defined
_ _ _ _ _ Spelling or uncorrected typing errors
_ _ _ _ _ Does not use passive voice
_ _ _ _ _ No hyphenated words at the end of a line
_ _ _ _ _ Avoid biased language
_ _ _ _ _ Use scholarly tone
_ _ _ _ _ Paraphrasing, not plagiarizing, references
TITLE PAGE: 4 points total
Title (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Descriptive title
_ _ _ _ _ Centered
_ _ _ _ _ Length (no more than 12 words)
_ _ _ _ _ Appropriate capitalization
Author’s Name (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Centered
Institution Name (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Centered
_ _ _ _ _ Appropriate capitalization
Running head (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Left Justified
_ _ _ _ _ CAPS for actual running head
_ _ _ _ _ Title “Running head:”
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INTRODUCTION: 89.5 points total
Title at Beginning (.5 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Matches title page
_ _ _ _ _ Centered, not bolded, no extra space between title and first paragraph
Main Introduction Section (89 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Opening paragraph is general and introduces the general problem (8 points)
_ _ _ _ _ States the general purpose of the paper near the beginning of this section (8 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Defines key terms/variables (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Reviews the literature/Provides adequate background, by discussing at least 2 relevant
previous research studies) (24 points; 12 points for each study: 4 points relevance, 8 points
content)
_ _ _ _ _ Literature review is organized around themes (not simply presenting a list of research studies
without connection to overarching ideas) (10 points)
_ _ _ _ _ At least 4 references are incorporated in the body of the introduction (at least 3 in addition to
the key article) (8 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Information included is relevant to providing the rationale for the research project (does not
give excessive but unrelated detail about the general topic) (4 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Links literature review to the current research project topic (4 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Testable hypothesis stated clearly near the end of this section (i.e., operationally define your
variables) (8 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Hypotheses logically follow from the research discussed in the body of the Introduction (2
points)
_ _ _ _ _ Gives a brief overview of the research design (how the hypotheses will be tested; e.g.,
correlational study? Experiment? Save details for Methods Section, however) (4 points)
_ _ _ _ _ 3-5 pages in length (4 points)
_ _ _ _ _ APA format for in-text citations, and proper inclusion of in-text citations (4 points)
REFERENCE SECTION: 10.5 points total
Heading (.5 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Centered and on new page
Reference List (10 points)
_ _ _ _ _ At least four references listed: 1 should be your “key article,” at least 2 others must be
empirical journal articles (all must be scholarly papers) (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Listed references match those used in the text (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ APA Style formatting (e.g., proper spacing, indentation, proper format for empirical journal
articles versus book chapters, etc.) (6 points)
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Part II. METHODS SECTION
Worth: 34 points total
Due Date: Listed in syllabus and on Blackboard
The Method Section will include 4 key sections: participants, design, materials, and procedures. Other
sections can be included as necessary, but these 4 must be included. You will rely closely on the
Research Project Protocol you are given for your research project. However, the final written version for
your paper must be written on your own. There is no page requirement for this section—just be sure
you include the required information in enough detail that your study could be replicated by others.
Average length is around 1-2 pages for this class.
GENERAL REQUIREMENTS: 2 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Margins (1 inch on all sides)
_ _ _ _ _ Font (12 point, Times New Roman)
_ _ _ _ _ Double spacing
_ _ _ _ _ Page numbers
_ _ _ _ _ Heading (Methods) Bold & Centered
APPROPRIATE WRITING STYLE: 3 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Organization
_ _ _ _ _ Use of subheadings to provide structure (see APA Manual p. 62)
_ _ _ _ _ Sentence structure
_ _ _ _ _ Does not express more than 1 or 2 ideas in a single sentence
_ _ _ _ _ Use of clear examples to clarify abstract points
_ _ _ _ _ Choice of words (clear, concise, direct)
_ _ _ _ _ Attention to transitions between paragraphs
_ _ _ _ _ Indention of paragraphs (5 spaces)
_ _ _ _ _ Paragraph length (not too long)
_ _ _ _ _ Proper use of quotes (use only when absolutely necessary! Paraphrase results from other
studies)
_ _ _ _ _ Abbreviations defined
_ _ _ _ _ Spelling or uncorrected typing errors
_ _ _ _ _ No hyphenated words at the end of a line
_ _ _ _ _ Avoid biased language
_ _ _ _ _In-text citations/references included where needed
_ _ _ _ _Write in past tense (“Participants were assigned to two groups…”)
_ _ _ _ _ Do not try to “prove” a theory (rather, “support” a theory)
_ _ _ _ _ Does not use passive voice
_ _ _ _ _ Use scholarly tone
PARTICIPANTS SUBSECTION: 4 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Proper subheading (left-aligned, bold, uppercase & lowercase; APA p. 62)
_ _ _ _ _ Total number of participants (can be estimated for this paper)
_ _ _ _ _ How participants were found
_ _ _ _ _ How participants were compensated
_ _ _ _ _ What population did you sample from?
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DESIGN SUBSECTION: 5 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Proper subheading (left-aligned, bold, uppercase & lowercase; APA p. 62)
_ _ _ _ _What was the study design? (Correlational study or experiment?)
_ _ _ _ _ If correlational study, what were the variables you measured?
_ _ _ _ _If experiment, what were the conditions, how many people were assigned to each condition,
and were these between-subjects or within-subjects?)
MATERIALS SUBSECTION: 5 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Proper subheading (left-aligned, bold, uppercase & lowercase; APA p. 62)
_ _ _ _ _ Description of materials used, including number of items, sample items, range of scale, and
references, if applicable
_ _ _ _ _ Description of how scores were calculated (if applicable)
PROCEDURE SUBSECTION: 15 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Proper subheading (left-aligned, bold, uppercase & lowercase; APA p. 62) (.5 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Statement on ethical treatment (e.g., informed consent) (.5 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Describe procedure with enough detail to replicate research (5 points)
_ _ _ _ _Describe where study was administered (e.g., lab, field, classroom) (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Describe instructions given to participants (3 points)
_ _ _ _ _Thorough description of how tasks were administered (e.g., order, counterbalancing if
applicable) (5 points)
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Part III. RESULTS SECTION, DISCUSSION SECTION, AND ABSTRACT
Worth: 120 points total
Due Date: Listed in syllabus and on Blackboard
The Results Section should include the key components of results sections as described in the APA
Manual (and Chapter 15 of the textbook). First remind the reader of your hypotheses. Then, describe
the statistical tests you are using and your primary dependent measures. For each statistical test,
provide the necessary statistical notations, including the p value (whether the result was significant or
not). After you discuss each statistical test, be sure to briefly state whether this finding is consistent (or
not) with your hypotheses. (You will not elaborate, but this will help guide the reader through the
hypothesis testing procedures.) Be sure to include at least one table or figure to depict your main
results. At least one figure will be provided to you when the results are analyzed. Although the statistical
results will be computed for you (and thus will be the same for all group members), this section should
be written and created by each individual. There is no page requirement for this section; just be sure to
include all the requirements listed here and below. Average page length is around ½ to 2 pages for this
class.
The Discussion Section should go from specific to general. Summarize your hypotheses and results, then
link your findings back to the literature. Are your findings consistent or inconsistent with previous
research? How do you explain any inconsistencies? Also describe at least 2 limitations of your study and
at least 2 ideas for future research. This section should be 2-4 pages in length.
GENERAL REQUIREMENTS: 2 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Margins (1 inch on all sides)
_ _ _ _ _ Font (12 point, Times New Roman)
_ _ _ _ _ Double spacing
_ _ _ _ _ Page numbers
_ _ _ _ _ Headings (Results, Discussion, Abstract) Bold & Centered
APPROPRIATE WRITING STYLE: 12 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Organization
_ _ _ _ _ Use of headings/subheadings to provide structure (see APA Manual p. 62)
_ _ _ _ _ Sentence structure
_ _ _ _ _ Does not express more than 1 or 2 ideas in a single sentence
_ _ _ _ _ Use of clear examples to clarify abstract points
_ _ _ _ _ Choice of words (clear, concise, direct)
_ _ _ _ _ Attention to transitions between paragraphs
_ _ _ _ _ Indention of paragraphs (5 spaces)
_ _ _ _ _ Paragraph length (not too long)
_ _ _ _ _ Proper use of quotes (use only when absolutely necessary! Paraphrase results from other
studies)
_ _ _ _ _ Abbreviations defined
_ _ _ _ _ Spelling or uncorrected typing errors
_ _ _ _ _ No hyphenated words at the end of a line
_ _ _ _ _ Avoids biased language
_ _ _ _ _ Do not try to “prove” a theory (rather, “support” a theory)
_ _ _ _ _ Does not use passive voice
_ _ _ _ _ Use scholarly tone
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RESULTS SECTION: 38 points total
Hypothesis: 7 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Restated at beginning of section (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Operationally-defined (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Clear statement of whether supported or not after statistics reported (3 points)
Results Reported: 25 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Any selection criteria? Dropouts (and why)? (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Descriptive statistics reported (overall means, SD) (5 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Clear what inferential statistical test(s) was/were used (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Appropriate statistics used and reported in correct format and detail; include all results
relevant to your hypotheses (even null results) (14 points)
_ _ _ _ _ No interpretations beyond whether data support/disconfirm hypothesis (1 point)
_ _ _ _ _ Properly refers reader to figures/tables (to depict results) (1 point)
Tables/Figures: 6 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Inclusion of Figure numbers and captions (and/or table headings) (see APA Manual Chapter 5,
e.g., p. 158) (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ At least 1 table or figure is included (use of the figure(s) given to your group is recommended)
(2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Table/Figure is presented on separate page at the end of the document (2 points)
DISCUSSION SECTION: 53 points total
_ _ _ _ _ Opening summary of study: Purpose, methods, results (Do not repeat exact statistics; give an
overall summary of findings 10 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Statement of support/nonsupport for hypothesis (2 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Describe similarities/differences between your findings and at least two others; compare and
contrast the methods and results of these studies with yours (11 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Explain at least 2 limitations of research and implications of limitations (20 points)
_ _ _ _ _ Explain at least 2 ideas for future research (10 points)
ABSTRACT: 15 points total
_ _ _ _ _ On its own page (after title page)
_ _ _ _ _ Single paragraph
_ _ _ _ _ Block format (no indent)
_ _ _ _ _ Succinctly summarizes all aspects of paper (do not give exact statistics; summarize your
findings) (12 points)
_ _ _ _ _ No quotes
_ _ _ _ _ Maximum of 250 words
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Title [Capitalize All Major Words; No More than 12 Words]
Name
University of Louisville
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[No Abstract Needed Yet – We will add this when we write the last paper section]
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Title Again [Capitalize All Major Words; No More than 12 Words]
In this paragraph, describe the general purpose of the research. What is the major
problem this work is trying to solve or provide more information on? Remember that the
research is about the research project you were assigned, NOT your own idea. For this example
paper, the research project I was assigned to write about is on how working memory capacity
impacts insight. I could start by saying something like this: Insight enables us to make new
connections and solve novel problems. Because it is such an important ability, researchers are
interested in understanding the cognitive mechanisms that support out ability to create these
novel ideas. This study will examine the role of working memory capacity and insight problem
solving. [Use scholarly tone throughout; see Rubric for points regarding appropriate writing
style].
Heading [Example: Working Memory and Problem Solving]
Now you are beginning to lay out the logic of the study. What do previous studies say
about the topic you are studying? Do not organize this section simply by assigning each
paragraph to a different study. For example, do not just talk about Smith & Jones (2013) in
paragraph 1, Vargas (2018) in paragraph 2, etc., without linking them or transitioning between
them in some way. The Harvard Handbook reading gives you some ideas on how to lay out your
literature review (what this section is) thematically. Think about the argument you are trying to
make (i.e., what your hypothesis is going to be), and work up to that. Here is a basic example of
how this section might look:
Working memory capacity is the ability to hold information that is relevant to the task at
hand active in one’s attention, while inhibiting information that is irrelevant (Engle, 2002).
[Notice that I defined this key term, and also notice how I cited one of my sources for this
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information. I paraphrased, using my own words, from my source article. No quotes should be
used for this assignment.] Working memory is considered to be so important for human
cognition that nearly all tasks rely on it (Engle, 2002). Engle (2002) described working memory
capacity as relying primarily on executive attention. He justified this claim by reviewing several
studies showing that working memory capacity is highly correlated with tasks that measure
attention. Thus, Engle [don’t need to repeat the date, since I’ve used it already in this paragraph]
considers working memory and attention as synonymous.
Because working memory is so important for so many tasks, it would make sense that
this ability would correlate positively with problem solving. However, DeCaro, Van Stockum,
and Wieth (2016) [this is my key article] found that individuals with higher working memory
capacity counterintuitively showed lower insight problem solving scores compared to individuals
with lower working memory capacity. Insight problem solving tasks require individuals to come
up with creative solutions to problems—to “think outside the box.” [Another definition] DeCaro
et al. (2016) used a matchstick arithmetic task to measure insight problem solving. In the
matchstick arithmetic task…[I would briefly describe this task, to give a little information about
their study. Plus it is the same task I will be using in my study, because it is my key article.]
DeCaro et al. used the Automated Reading Span task to measure working memory
capacity. In the Automated Reading Span task, participants are asked to… [I would also briefly
describe this task.]
DeCaro et al. (2016) found that scores on the working memory task were negatively
associated with scores on the insight problem solving task. Thus, higher capacity was associated
with lower insight. DeCaro et al. explained that individuals with higher working memory
capacity may be more likely to rely on complex strategies to try to solve insight problems. Yet,
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insight problems are thought to be solved best by using more associative processes, such as
spreading activation in long-term memory. If people are focusing too much attention on the
wrong strategies, then they will miss the more creative solutions generated by these associative
processes. Higher-capacity individuals might miss these more (DeCaro et al., 2016).
If higher working memory capacity can hinder insight by leading people to pay too much
attention to complex strategies, then situations that reduce working memory capacity might help
increase insight. Jarosz, Colflesh, and Wiley (2012) found support for this idea, by testing the
effects of mild alcohol intoxication on a creativity task similar to insight problem solving. [This
is a real study!] Jarosz et al. asked participants to complete a Remote Associates Task, in which
participants must come up with a word that links to each of three other words with a common
compound phrase (e.g., pine, crab, sauce; the answer is “apple”). Participants completed this task
before and after drinking alcohol to a blood alcohol content level of .075. On average,
participants experienced lower working memory capacity, but higher creativity on the Remote
Associates Task. These findings demonstrate a further link between working memory and the
creative processes that underlie insight.
DeCaro and Van Stockum (2018) showed a similar link between working and insight.
However, instead of measuring working memory capacity, they examined the impact of a
working memory demanding condition on insight problem solving. [I would go on to explain this
study and link it to the overall theme. This is my fourth reference (four are required). There were
a lot of prior studies I could have chosen, but I felt each of these added together well to show that
there is good reason to believe I will find support for my hypotheses. You are required to discuss
at least two relevant prior studies. I chose to include three here because I felt this was the best
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way to incorporate the papers I read on this topic. Note that all of these articles are relevant and
do not give excessive unrelated information.].
Current Study [this heading is required – it tells the reader you are getting ready to link the
literature review to your current study and hypotheses; also notice that I have at least two
headings total, which is also required]
The current study will further examine the link between insight and working memory, by
replicating the procedures used by DeCaro et al. (2016) with an undergraduate sample at the
University of Louisville. [Notice that I linked the current and past studies here. I did not do a lot
for this, because it is pretty clear that my theme has been on working memory and insight,
throughout. You might need to make your link clearer if your studies are less obviously
connected to each other.] Using a correlational design, [state whether you are using a
correlational or experimental research design] I will ask students in a psychological research
methods course to complete the Automated Reading Span task to measure working memory
capacity, and the Matchstick Arithmetic Task to measure insight problem solving. Both of these
tasks were described earlier. [Note that I used “will complete”; you could also write this in past
tense, such as “completed.” I wrote is as future tense because I have not technically run the study
yet. But it would be past tense once you have. Either is fine for this assignment.] As found by
DeCaro et al. (2016), I predict that higher scores on the working memory task will be associated
with lower insight problem solving scores [testable hypothesis given—I included operational
definitions of these variables above, and now am explaining the expected relationship between
them]. As shown in the prior studies above (DeCaro & Van Stockum, 2018; Jarosz et al., 2012
[alphabetical order when you have two or more references in an in-text citation]), lower working
memory—due to individual differences or to situational factors—can improve insight
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[explaining why I expect these results by linking to the literature reviewed above]. This
prediction runs counter to the prevailing literature on working memory, however (Engle, 2002).
Thus, it is important to replicate this finding with a new sample.
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References
DeCaro, M. S., & Van Stockum, C. A. Jr. (2018). Ego-depletion improves insight. Thinking and
Reasoning, 24, 315–343. doi:10.1080/13546783.2017.1396253
DeCaro, M. S., Van Stockum, C. A. Jr., & Wieth, M. (2016). When higher working memory
capacity hinders insight. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and
Cognition, 42, 39–49. doi:10.1037/xlm0000152
Engle, R. W. (2002). Working memory capacity as executive attention. Current Directions in
Psychological Science, 11, 19–23. doi:10.1111/1467-8721.00160
Jarosz, A. F., Colflesh, G. J. H., & Wiley, J. (2012). Uncorking the muse: Alcohol intoxication
facilitates creative problem solving. Consciousness and Cognition, 21, 487–493.
doi:10.1016/j.concog.2012.01.002
[At least four references listed: 1 should be your “key article,” at least 2 others must be
empirical journal articles (all must be scholarly papers); Listed references match those used in
the text; APA Style formatting (e.g., proper spacing, indentation, proper format for empirical
journal articles versus book chapters, etc.)]
Research Project: Memory
Credibility of Eyewitness Memory
Key Article: 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, 585589.
Note: This article can be difficult to locate in PsychInfo. It will be available in your Research
Project folder.
Project Description
How accurate is our memory? Can the way a question is asked change the way we retrieve memories?
You will examine these questions with UofL students (your classmates) by asking them to view a video of
an automobile accident. One group of participants will be asked “How fast were the cars going when
they smashed into each other?” The other group will be asked “How fast were the cars going when they
contacted each other?” The wording given to the first group suggests that the car was going fast,
whereas the wording for the second condition is more neutral. You will examine the speed (in miles-perhour) your classmates give as their answer, to see if there are differences between the groups.
Procedural Details
It is important not to discuss this study with your classmates before Research Project Participation
Week. They will be your participants, and it can change the results of your study if they are aware of
your hypotheses.
You will administer this study online, and it has already been set up for you. All participants will view the
following video of a car crash: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg5bBJQOL74. Then, they will
respond to a questionnaire. Participants will be randomly assigned to 1 of 2 different conditions by the
survey software. In both conditions, participants will first be asked to “give an account of the accident
you have just seen,” and will write their answers. Then they will respond to some specific questions
about the accident they have just seen. These will be plausible questions, but will not be of relevance to
the current study. Instead, they will serve as filler questions, designed to hide the question of interest to
the current study. Embedded among these questions will be the target question. The experimental
condition will be asked, “How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other? (in miles per
hour)” The control condition will be asked, “How fast were the cars going when they contacted each
other? (in miles per hour).”
Additional Information
This is the project you will complete throughout the semester, writing an APA-style paper. Although
others in the class will be assigned to the same project, the paper will be written individually. Your
classmates will participate in your experiment during the Research Project Participation week. Later, you
will access the data and conduct some basic statistics. Following, you will receive an SPSS output file
with your results, and be asked to interpret the results. At the end of the semester, you will create and
present a poster of your findings (using PowerPoint) in an online discussion board forum with your
classmates.
JOURNAL OF VERBAL LEARNING AND VERBAL BEHAVIOR 13, 585-589 (1974)
Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction :
A n Example of the Interaction Between Language and Memory’
ELIZABETH F. LOFTUS
A N D JOHN C. PALMER
University of Washington
Two experiments are reported in which subjects viewed films of automobile accidents
and then answered questions about events occurring in the films. The question, “About
how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” elicited higher estimates
of speed than questions which used the verbs collided, bumped, contucted, or hit in place of
smashed. On a retest one week later, those subjects who received the verb smashed were
more likely to say “yes” to the question, “Did you see any broken glass?”, even though
broken glass was not present in the film. These results are consistent with the view that the
questions asked subsequent t o an event can cause a reconstruction in one’s memory of that
event.
How accurately do we remember the as to how fast a vehicle was actually traveling
details of a complex event, like a traffic (Gardner, 1933). In one test administered to
accident, that has happened in our presence? Air Force personnel who knew in advance
More specifically, how well do we do when that they would be questioned about the speed
asked to estimate some numerical quantity of a moving automobile, estimates ranged
such as how long the accident took, how fast from 10 to 50 mph. The car they watched was
the cars were traveling, or how much time actually going only 12 mph (Marshall, 1969,
elapsed between the sounding of a horn and p. 23).
Given the inaccuracies in estimates of
the moment of collision?
It is well documented that most people are speed, it seems likely that there are variables
markedly inaccurate in reporting such numeri- which are potentially powerful in terms of
cal details as time, speed, and distance (Bird, influencing these estimates. The present
1927; Whipple, 1909). For example, most research was conducted to investigate one
people have difficulty estimating the duration such variable, namely, the phrasing of the
of an event, with some research indicating that question used to elicit the speed judgment.
the tendency is to overestimate the duration of Some questions are clearly more suggestive
events which are complex (Block, 1974; than others. This fact of life has resulted in
Marshall, 1969; Ornstein, 1969). The judg- the legal concept of a leading question and in
ment of speed is especially difficult, and legal rules indicating when leading questions
practically every automobile accident results are allowed (Supreme Court Reporter, 1973).
in huge variations from one witness to another A leading question is simply one that, either
This research was supported by the Urban Mass by its form or content, suggests to the witness
Transportation Administration, Department of Trans- what answer is desired or leads him to the
1 portation, Grant No. WA-11-0004. Thanks go to
desired answer.
Geoffrey Loftus, Edward E. Smith, and Stephen
In the present study, subjects were shown
Woods for many important and helpful comments,
films of traffic accidents and then they
Reprint requests should be sent to Elizabeth F. Loftus.
answered questions about the accident. The
Department of Psychology, University of Washington,
subjects were interrogated about the speed of
Seattle, Washington 981 95.
Copyright 0 1974 by Academic Press, Inc.
All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
Printed in Great Britain
585
586
LOFTUS AND PALMER
the vehicles in one of several ways. For
example, some subjects were asked, “About
how fast were the cars going when they hit
each other?” while others were asked, “About
how fast were the cars going when they
smashed into each other?” As Fillmore (1971)
and Bransford and McCarrell (in press) have
noted, hit and si.r.lasl?ed may involve specification of differential rates of movement.
Furthermore, the two verbs may also involve
differential specification of the likely consequences of the events to which they are
referring. The impact of the accident is
apparently gentler for hit than for .n~ia.dtctI.
EXPERIMENT 1
Metliod
Forty-five students participated in groups of
various sizes. Seven films were shown, each
depicting a traffic accident. These films were
segments from longer driver’s education
f i l m borrowed from the Evergreen Safety
Council and the Seattle Police Department.
The length of the film segments ranged from
5 to 30 sec. Following each film, the subjects
received a questionnaire asking then1 first to,
“give an account of the accident you have just
seen,“ and then to answer a series of specific
questions about the accident. The critical
question was the one that interrogated the
subject about the speed of the vehicles involved
in the collision. Nine subjects were asked,
“About how fast were the cars going when they
hit each other?” Equal numbers of the
remaining subjects were interrogated with
the verbs smashed, collided, buiiiped, and
contacted in place of hit. The entire experiment
lasted about an hour and a half. A different
ordering of the films was presented to each
group of subjects.
R esiilt s
Table 1 presents the mean speed estimates
for the various verbs. Following the procedures outlined by Clark (1973), an analysis
of variance was performed with verbs as a
fixed effect, and subjects and films as random
TABLE 1
S PEED ESTIMATES
FOR T H E VERBS
USED IN E XPERIMENT 1
Verb
Mean speed estimate
Sinas hed
Collided
Bumpcd
Hit
Contacted
40.5
39.3
38.1
34.0
31.8
efTects, yielding a significant quasi F ratio,
!“(5,55) = 4.65,p < .005. Some information about the accuracy of subjects’ estimates can be obtained from our data. Four of the seven films were staged crashes; the original purpose of these films was to illustrate what can happen to human beings when cars collide at various speeds. One collision took place at 20 mph, one at 30, and two at 40. The mean estimates of speed for these four films were: 37.7, 36.2, 39.7, and 36.1 mph, respectively. In agreement with previous work, people are not very good at judging how fast a vehicle was actually traveling. Discussioii The results of this experiment indicate that the form of a question (in this case, changes in a single word) can markedly and systematically affect a witness’s answer to that question. The actual speed of the vehicles controlled little variance in subject reporting, while the phrasing of the question controlled considerable variance. Two interpretations of this finding are possible. First, it is possible that the differential speed estimates result merely from response-bias factors. A subject is uncertain whether to say 30 mph or 40 mph, for example, and the verb siiiaslied biases his response towards the higher estimate. A second inter- Ps pretation is that the question form causes a change in the subject’s memory representation of the accident. The verb siiiashed may change a subject’s memory such that he II 1 1 587 LANGUAGE A N D MEMORY CHANGES “sees” the accident as being more severe than it actually was. If this is the case, we might expect subjects to “remember” other details that did not actually occur, but are commensurate with an accident occurring at higher speeds. The second experiment was designed to provide additional insights into the origin of the differential speed estimates. with hit the estimate was 8.00 mph. These means are significantly different, t (98) = 2.00, p < -05. TABLE 2 D ISTRIBUTION AND “NO” R ES QUESTION, “DID YOU SEE A NY BROKEN GLASS?’ OF “YES” PONSES TO THE Verb condition E XPERIMENT I1 Method Response Smashed Hit Control ~One hundred and fifty students participated Yes 16 7 6 in this experiment, in groups of various sizes. No 34 43 44 A film depicting a multiple car accident was shown, followed by a questionnaire. The film Table 2 presents the distribution of ‘.yes” lasted less than 1 min; the accident in the film and “no” responses for the smashed, Itit, and lasted 4 sec. At the end of the film, the subjects control subjects. An independence chi-square received a questionnaire asking them first to on these responses was significant beyond test describe the accident in their own words, and the .025 level, ~ ~ ( =2 7.76. ) The important then to answer a series of questions about the 2 i s that the probability of result in Table accident. The critical question was the one P(Y), to the question about saying “yes,” that interrogated the subject about the speed .32 when the verb sn?a.died is broken glass is of the vehicles. Fifty subjects were asked, used, and .14 with hit. Thus smashed leads “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” Fifty subjects both to more “yes” responses and to higher were asked, “About how fast were the cars speed estimates. It appears to be the case that going when they hit each other?” Fifty the effect of the verb is mediated at least in subjects were not interrogated about vehicular part by the speed estimate. The question now arises : Is sniushed doing anything else besides speed. One week later, the subjects returned and increasing the estimate of speed? To answer without viewing the film again they answered this, the function relating P(Y) to speed a series of questions about the accident, The estimate was calculated separately for stiiashed critical question here was, “Did you see any and hit. If the speed estimate is the only way broken glass?” which the subjects answered in which effect of verb is mediated, then for a by checking “yes” or “no.” This question was given speed estimate, P(Y) should be inembedded in a list totalling 10 questions, and dependent of verb. Table 3 shows that this is it appeared in a random position in the list. TABLE 3 There was no broken glass in the accident, PROBABILITY OF SAYING “YES” TO, “D ID Y O U SEE but, since broken glass is commensurate with A NY B R O K ~ G N L A SS ?’ CONDIT~ONALIZED ON S PEED accidents occurring at high speed, we expected E STIMATES that the subjects who had been asked the smashed question might more often say “yes” Speed estimate (mph) k to this critical question. Verb -Results The mean estimate of speed for subjects interrogated with smaslted was 10.46 mph; condition 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20 Smashed Hit .09 .06 .27 .09 .41 .25 .62 .50 588 LOFTUS AP4D PALMER not the case. P(Y) is lower for hit than for smashed; the difference between the two verbs ranges from .03 for estimates of 1-5 mph t o .I8 for estimates of 6-10 mph. The average difference between the two curves is about .12. Whereas the unconditional difference of . I8 between the smashed and hit conditions is attenuated, it is by no means eliminated when estimate of speed is controlled for. It thus appears that the verb smashed has other effects besides that of simply increasing the estimate of speed. One possibility will be discussed in the next section. DISCUSSION To reiterate, we have first of all provided a n additional demonstration of something that has been known for some time, namely, that the way a question is asked can enormously influence the answer that is given. In this instance, the question, “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” led to higher estimates of speed than the same question asked with the verb smashed replaced by hit. Furthermore, this seemingly small change had consequences for how questions are answered a week after the original event occurred. As a framework for discussing these results, we would like to propose that two kinds of information go into one’s memory for some complex occurrence. The first is information gleaned during the perception of the original event; the second is external information supplied after the fact. Over time, information from these two sources may be integrated in such a way that we are unable to tell from which source some specific detail is recalled. All we have is one “memory.” Discussing the present experiments in these terms, we propose that the subject first forms some representation of the accident he has witnessed. The experimenter then, while asking, “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” supplies a piece of external information, namely, that the cars did indeed smash into each other. When these two pieces of information are integrated, the subject has a memory of an accident that was more severe than in fact it was. Since broken glass is commensurate with a severe accident, the subject is more likely to think that broken glass was present. There is some connection between the present work and earlier work on the influence of verbal labels on memory for visually presented form stimuli. A classic study in psychology showed that when subjects are asked to reproduce a visually presented form, their drawings tend to err in the direction of a more familiar object suggested by a verbal label initially associated with the to-beremembered form (Carmichael, Hogan, & Walter, 1932). More recently, Daniel (1972) showed that recognition memory, as well as reproductive memory, was similarly affected by verbal labels, and he concluded that the verbal label causes a shift in the memory strength of forms which are better representatives of the label. When the experimenter asks the subject, “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?”, he is effectively labeling the accident a smash. Extrapolating the conclusions of Daniel to this situation, it is natural to conclude that the label, smash, causes a shift in the memory representation of the accident in the direction of being more similar to a representation suggested by the verbal label. R EFERENCES BIRD, C. The influence of the press upon the accuracy of report. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 1927,22, 123-129. BLOCK, R . A. Memory and the experience of duration in retrospect. Memory & Cogtiition, 1974, 2, I 53-1 60. B RANSFORD , J. D., & MCCARRELL, N. S.A sketch of a cognitive approach to comprehension : Some thoughts about understanding what it means to comprehend. In D. Palerrno & W. Weimer (Eds.), Cognition arid the synibolic processes. Washington, D.C.: V . H. Winston & Co., in press. 3 CAHMICHAI I-, L., HO(iAN, I I. l'., & WAI I I I(, A . A . experimental study of the etl'ect ol' language 011 the reproduction of visually perceived form. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1932, 15, 73-86. CLARK, H. H. The language-as-fixed-effect fallacy: A 3 critique of language statistics in psychological research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 1973,12,335-359. DANIEL, T. C. Nature of the effect of verbal labels on recognition memory for form. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1972,96, 152-157. FILLMORE, C. J. Types of lexical information. In D. D. Steinberg and L. A. Jakobovits (Eds.), Semantics: An interdisciplinary reader in philo- sopl~y,t i i l ~ i i i . ~ / i c ~tiircl v , p.v.i,c.liolcJ,~J.i.. C'iitiil~i.iclgc: Cambritlgc University Press, 1971. GARDNER, D. S. The perception and memory of witnesses. Cornell Law Quarterly, 1933, 8, 391-409. MARSHALL, J. Law and psychology in conflict. New York: Anchor Books, 1969. ORNSTEIN, R. E. On the experience of time. Harmondsworth. Middlesex. England: Penguin, 1969. WHIPPLE, G. M. The observer as reporter: A survey of the psychology of testimony. Psychological Bulletin, 1909, 6 , 153-170. Supreme Court Reporter, 1973, 3 : Rules of Evidence for United State Courts and Magistrates. (Received April 17, 1974) Insight-Incremental Mean SE 2.000 insight 2.260 incremental Incremental-Insight Mean SE 1.500 insight 2.917 incremental .245 .289 Incremental-Insight Order Insight-Incremental Order 4.00 Problem Accuracy 3.50 3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 0.00 insight incremental Problem Type .240 .283 mean 41.568 43.846 Estimated Miles Per Hour Contacted Smashed 2.6364 2.0626 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 15 10 5 0 Contacted Smashed Conditon Purchase answer to see full attachment

  
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