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Example Answers for Memory: A Level Psychology, Paper 1, June 2019 (AQA)


Last updated 16 Dec 2019

Here are some example answers to the written Paper 1 questions on Memory in the 2019 AQA exams.

Question 07

The effectiveness of the cognitive interview can be shown in comparison to the standard interview by looking at the amount of correct information recalled. Kohnken et al (1999) found in a meta-analyses of 50 studies that the cognitive interview consistently provided more correct information than a standard interview. On average there was an 81% increase in correct information, showing that the technique is effective. In addition Milne and Bull (2002) found that each technique within the cognitive was equally as valuable and contributed to this increase. However, it should be acknowledged that whilst the cognitive interview yields more correct information, it also increases the amount of incorrect information too, with Kohnken et al (1999) finding an increasing of 61% in false information. This may jeopardise the appropriateness of the interview technique as police cannot rely on all the information remembered be accurate. In addition the cognitive interview is a very time consuming technique to use, requiring additional training and time to dedicate to all the techniques. Therefore the technique may not be appropriate to use for all police forces and all crimes where the time and resources of a full cognitive interview cannot be given.

Question 08

The multistore model of memory was the first attempt at creating a theoretical model of human memory and described memory of a linear process with three unitary stores. The model suggested that environmental stimuli arrives at the brain and enters the sensory register. This information is stored in modality specific ways for less than half a second before the trace decays and is forgotten. If attention is paid to a specific environmental input then it is transferred to the short term memory where a rehearsal loop can be undertaken to keep the memory trace active. This store has a limited capacity of between 5 to 9 items – after which the earlier memories are displaced in favour of newer ones. It also has a limited duration of about 30seconds – after which the memory decays. Finally the memory is encoded acoustically. If a longer or more purposeful period of rehearsal takes place then the memory can be transferred to the long term memory. This, in comparison, has a potentially unlimited capacity and potentially unlimited duration where memories are theoretically only temporarily inaccessible due to retrieval failure and interference. Once long term memory is stored it can be retrieved into the short term memory in order to recalled.

When trying to remember PIN numbers they are well within the ability of the average person to remember whereas when trying to remember an 11 digit phone number this is longer than most people can achieve in short term memory (5-9 items). However these longer phone numbers can be recalled by using the rehearsal loop ‘saying it to themselves several times’. However as is stated any disruption to that rehearsal process (such as someone talking to you) would displace the numbers from the STM and it would be forgotten. When doing this people will sometimes find they remember the beginning – which has been rehearsed a lot – and then end – which is fresh in the STM. However they may forget the middle. People can make this easier to achieve by “chunking” the information into less overall pieces. For example knowing a mobile begins 07 or an area code is 01162 or by remembering the numbers in pairs 26 rather than 2 and 6.

There is a wealth of evidence to support the separation of the STM and LTM with experimental studies showing that the two stores have different capacities, duration and encoding. For example Jacobs found the capacity of STM to be 7±2, by using the serial digit span technique. Peterson & Peterson found that when learning nonsense trigrams with a distractor task which prevented rehearsal the duration of STM was roughly 18-30seconds. Finally Baddeley used substitution errors to investigate the learning of material in STM and LTM showing that when using STM there were more errors made for acoustically similar words whereas when in LTM these errors disappeared but were replaced by error in semantically similar words. He suggested this was due to the confusion of similarity in the mode which was being used to encode the memories. These studies shown that the two types of memory are qualitatively different to each other, as the model suggests.

In addition case studies such as HM have shown in that the assumptions about the linear nature of the MSM are valid. HM had his hippocampus removed in an attempt to cure his epilepsy and as a result suffered anterograde amnesia. He was able to function in the short term memory loop of about 30 seconds, and had most of his memories from prior to the operation intact. However he was unable to create new long term memories as the process by which information was transferred from one store to another was now broken. This supports the unitary nature of the MSM and the linear nature of committing a memory to the LTM.

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