Vincent T. Phan
Columbine High School
IB Psychology SL
December 15th, 2014
WORD COUNT: 1442
Abstract Our aim was to replicate the study done by Loftus and Palmer in 1947 on a smaller scale. This involves using two independent variables compared to their five. This is to determine whether the use of language effects the reconstruction of memories via the stimulation of certain schemas. We will do this by convenience sampling at Columbine High School on students older than 16 years of age. We’ll use an independent samples design. This is to limit extraneous variables. We expected the “smashed into” group to answer with a higher numerical value compared to the contacted group. We hoped smashed would activate a different schema prompting the assumption of a higher speed than merely contacted. We will collect the data after informed consents, by displaying a video and having participants answer questionnaires afterwards. After collecting data (answers only in the form of xxx mph) and debriefing we saw that our collective data didn’t follow our expectations and that the “contacted” group gave higher numerical values than the “smashed into” group. Potential reasons of statistical anomalies are discussed.
The Effects of Verb Usage on Schema and Memory Interpretation
Loftus and Palmer (1974) dealt with the effects of schemas on a witnesses' ability to recall a traumatic event. Our memory is affected by certain schemas. Schemas are the preconception of certain ideas that have happened in the past that alter our means of processing information or the way we act in certain situations. A schema is a cognitive structure that provides a framework for organizing information about the world, events, people and actions. In this specific experiment, participants watched seven different clips of car accidents. Afterwards, participants answered questions based off of what they just saw. The critical question was "How fast were the cars going when they ____?". The verbs used were: contacted, hit, bumped, collided, and smashed into. Their hypothesis was that more emotionally intense verbs would prompt a higher speed. The results confirmed these ideas. Loftus and Palmer's view of memory as an active reconstructive process explains this. The typical schema of cars "smashing" is the assumption that they were going fast while "contacted" sounds less intense. My aim, is too see if this experiment is relevant within the target population of upperclassmen at Columbine High School. The expectation is that on our questionnaire the participants with "smashed into' on their forms will on average answer higher in mph than the "contacted" group.
This experiment used an independent samples design. This was done because only one car crash video will be shown and it'd be impossible for a single participant to see two versions of the critical question without guessing the nature of the experiment. We wanted to avoid encountering the Order Effect. The verbs "smashed" or "contacted" were the independent variables. Of all the questions, the critical question was, "How fast were the cars going when they _____ each other?" Therefore, the dependent variables would be the speed in miles per hour (mph) given in the form as a written response. To ensure the participants were tested under the same circumstances, both groups were tested at the same time in the same school. Informed consent was passed out and collected to make sure the participants agreed to our methods. We did not reveal the nature of the experiment then. Anyone who agreed was told what would happen; they would watch a video, fill out a questionnaire, and then be debriefed. A debriefing the day after revealed the true nature of the experiment being that one crucial question was analyzed to create results.
Participants were a convenience sample of students at Columbine High