Thestudy of memory is part of the cognitive process. Reconstruction memory is atheory of elaborate memory recall in which the act of remembering is influencedby various other cognitive processes including perception, beliefs and manyothers. Bartlett proposedthat memory are not copies of experiencebut rather a reconstruction. Schema is a cognitive framework that helpsorganise and interpret information in the brain. Bartlett(1932) conducted a study investigating the effect of schema on memory.
Hedemonstrated that memory is reconstructive through serial reproduction, wherehe told twenty British participants a story called “War of Ghosts” and asked themto repeatedly recall the story at different time intervals. Results showed thatstory which participants was retelling was altered and distorted. The storybecame noticeably shorter with each reproduction and participants also change the order to make senseof the information using relevant schemas and appropriate existing information.Because schemas can act as detail fillers, relevant schemas helped participantsmake sense of the information and fill in gaps with appropriate existinginformation. Therefore, it was concluded that pre-existing schemaaffected how participants interpreted the information and later recalled thestory. Hence, this shows that memory recall is influenced by our pre-existingknowledge, that is our schema, which is influenced by our cultural background.Anotherfactor which affected one’s ability to recall things is perception. This isdemonstrated when Loftus et al.
(1987) conducted a study to provide support forthe “weapon focus.” Loftus presented subject witnesses with multiple slides showingan event in a restaurant. The first condition, the no weapon condition, wheresubjects saw a customer hand the cashier a check. The second condition was theweapon condition, where a man points a gun at the cashier instead.
Participantswere later asked to identify the man from twenty different photographs and rateon a scale of one to six where one is a guess and six is very sure on howconfident they were of their identification of the person. Results revealedthat those who witnessed the man emerging in the no weapon condition tended tobe more accurate. This wasexplained by the weapon focus.
The weapon influenced participant’s perceptionof the event, as they tended to direct their attention to the weapon instead ofthe person’s face, therefore resulting in the reduction in ability to accuratelyrecall the person.