Role of Emotion in Forgetting

  • Created by: Molly
  • Created on: 13-05-12 11:28

Discuss the role of emotion in forgetting

Due to cognitive psychologists comparing the way we process information with computers, the idea of emotions altering our memory has been neglected. The three concepts of Flashbulb memory, Repression and State dependant memory have created an interest in the idea of emotion affecting memory and brought ideas of how memory can be enhanced or worsened.

The Flashbulb memory theory was proposed by Brown and Kulik in 1977, it suggested that when a major event occurs, some people acquire a photographic detailed memory of where they were and what they were doing at the time of the event. They called this type of recall “flashbulb memory” and found it was most likely to occur when the event was not only surprising to the person but also had an affect on their own life. Brown and Kulik asked a series of questions about ten major events and they found that for events such as the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 memories were vivid, detailed and long lasting.

P - The flashbulb memory theory has been criticised by Neisser in 1982
C - He disagreed that the flashbulb memory was distinct from other episodic memories since the long-lasting nature of the memory is probably due to it being frequently rehearsed rather than being due to any special neural activity at the time.

P - Another criticism of the flashbulb memory was conducted by Wright.
E - Wright aimed to investigate how accurate Flashbulb memories were, to do this he interviewed people relating to the Hillsborough football disaster in where 96 Liverpool supporters were crushed to death. To test the accuracy of their flashbulb memories, he asked them to recall the events of the disaster and after five months the participants did not have strong flashbulb memories of the event, only very vague memories.
C - In conclusion, Wright stated that the flashbulb memories were not very accurate and that they were a blend of their own experiences enhanced by information given by others after the event. Therefore, implying that they are not immune to error and that through things such as the media memories can be reconstructed to create memories that are inaccurate.

P - The flashbulb memory theory has been supported by Sheingold and Tenny in 1982.
E - They investigated into experiences more personal, asking participants about the birth of their brother or sister. Findings from this investigation shown that most people had very good memories of these events such as when they were told and who told them, also that accounts remained consistent over time.
C - This supports the flashbulb memory theory as it provides evidence that memories have stayed consistent and unchanged over time. This suggested that memories were stronger when they held an emotional attachment; however there is no way to measure the accuracy of the study.

P - A weakness of the flashbulb memory is that there is a lack of reliability.
E - For example,


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