Author Archives: estreete

“Memory Wars”

“Memory Wars”

Recovered memories have been a topic of controversy for quite some time. It is no secret that there have been wrongful convictions of people based upon false or implanted memories that were supposedly recovered. Because of this, more and more research has been done to further study the validity of repressed memories. One article specifically looks at the idea that trauma can lead to a blockage of autobiographical memories. It discusses the concept of dissociative amnesia, which is argued to be another term for memory repression. This article starts by discussing the term “memory wars”, which refers to this debate between psychologists everywhere regarding repressed memories and whether or not they truly exist. There are many different arguments to this debate, but the main question is of the validity of the concept of repressed memories. Some psychologists believe that due to trauma, people can block out certain memories as a sort of coping mechanism, and therefore, the memories must be retrieved by a professional later on. However, others believe that the idea of repressed memories is dangerous and can easily lead to accidentally implanting false and traumatic memories. Some psychologists believe that in order for someone to heal emotionally, they must have these supposed repressed memories retrieved so that they can work through them in therapy, but those who do not believe in these memories say that it is unethical to put a person in such a position that has the potential to be harmful to them. Furthermore, if repressed memories are indeed true, is it ethical to make someone relieve trauma with no guarantee that it will help them in the long run? These are some of the many questions proposed in this article. Next, this article discusses a laboratory study done by Loftus and Pickrell in 1995. This study looked at how easily false memories can be implanted. They interviewed a group of students and asked them to reflect on four different traumatic events that happened in their childhood. The students were told that these events were provided to them by their own parents; however, one of the four memories was actually false and was confirmed by the parents to never have happened. Loftus and Pickrell found that 25% of the participants claimed that the false event did occur, after it was suggested to them. This study alone suggests that using certain suggestive interviewing techniques can allow for false memories to be implanted fairly easily. All in all, because there is such an issue of ethics in the topic of repressed memories, it is a difficult concept to study. Studies such as Loftus and Pickrell’s allow us to understand this controversy a bit more, but are not able to answer all of our questions. So, what do you think? What are your thoughts regarding the memory wars? Do you feel that repressed memories exist?


Are the Findings of Cognitive Research Reliable?

Are the Findings of Cognitive Research Reliable?

I think it’s safe to say that there is no shortage of research done on cognition; however, many people worry that numerous studies are not reliable. If an experiment is unreliable, its results cannot be replicated by others and therefore the data cannot allow researchers to come to any conclusions. Understandably, this is a great concern in the psychological research community. Human cognition itself is a puzzle with missing pieces, and one can argue that every experiment in this field offers us another piece, but how do we know that that piece will fit? How do we know that a cognitive study truly offers us more information about the mind? Let’s talk about it.

In an article by Christian Jarrett, a study is reviewed and discussed in great detail. According to Jarrett, this study proves that cognitive experiments are reliable. He uses the word replicabilityto describe such studies. In other words, Jarrett argues that many cognitive studies can be replicated by others, and therefore their findings are true and applicable to the field. The research that Jarrett uses to back up his claims focuses on nine key findings from experiments of cognitive psychology. Interestingly enough, we have discussed several of these in class (motor priming, the spacing effect, false memories, serial position effect, associate priming, etc.). This series of studies was conducted by Rolf Zwann and his team from the University of Rotterdam. They came up with three important cognitive categories (perception/action, memory, and language) and selected three studies from each to revisit. Zwann originally wanted to evaluate the thought that many cognitive studies aren’t accurate because often times the same people are tested on the topic several times. He hypothesized that this was not the case, and he believed that if he could reproduce the results from all nine studies he could also validate their findings. For his study, Zwann replicated his studies through an online format. Now, I think we can all agree that technology has its limitations, and Zwann even mentioned this saying that it was difficult to maintain control over the testing environment and conditions, but he makes sure to point out that online testing is efficient and generalizable. Regardless, he carried out the studies as close as possible to their originals. He used a wide variety of participants and had several “waves” with the same subjects in each experiment. In other words, participants in the first wave of an experiment were also in the following waves. It is also important to note that participants were only allowed to be a part of one of the nine experiments. Zwann’s results from each study supported his hypothesis that even if participants are tested several times on the same effect the results are still valid. Therefore, Zwann’s work suggests that cognitive studies canbe reproduced/replicated and are accurate.

So, what do you think? Can we trust experiments on cognition? Do you think reliability is important?


Social Priming

Social Priming

Social priming has been a recent topic of discussion in the field of psychology. The majority of researchers and psychologists support the idea of priming; however, social priming is a new and controversial topic of interest. Priming, in simple terms, is when a stimulus influences one’s reaction to another stimulus. It is argued that priming can influence a person’s cognition and behavior; however, studies done on social priming suggest otherwise. Although there are many conflicting opinions, social priming is the thought that social concepts can evoke certain behavior in a person.

A journal released in 2018 was meant to discuss a study focusing on the reliability of priming effects. This journal and the study it discusses, were written and conducted by Andrew Rivers and Jeff Sherman. However, this 2018 journal released was actually a “reprint” of their original thoughts on their study’s findings. What’s the difference between the original journal and the reprint? The only real difference is that Rivers and Sherman included their own critiques for the counterarguments they received after their first publication was shared. As it turns out, Rivers and Sherman received significant backlash for their initial findings that many people disagreed with. Their study, utilized the four following tasks to conduct their research and gain knowledge on priming: Stroop Task, Lexical Decision Task (LDT), Weapons Identification Task (WIT), and Stereotype Misperception Task (SMT). Rivers and Sherman found that priming in several of these tasks reached and influenced the participants. These findings allowed Rivers and Sherman to believe that priming effects arereliable based on their research, and that part of the reason why many people have failed in trying to replicate research with similar findings is because of research design, publication bias, and statistical power. Although Rivers and Sherman support the idea that priming doesinfluence a person’s cognition and behavior, they don’t think too highly of socialpriming. They believe that there is no social aspect to priming. Furthermore, they suggest that the idea of social priming was created by social psychologists. Rivers and Sherman don’t necessarily say that these psychologists are bias, but they do find it suspicious that social priming is pretty much only studied by social psychologists.

Discoverreleased a journal review shortly after Rivers and Sherman released their revised journal. Interestingly enough, this company also wrote an article after the first edition of this journal came out just a couple years earlier. The original journal review, released in 2016, focused on the thought that Rivers and Sherman should have recognized social priming as a type of priming. The article mentioned that the reason why Rivers and Sherman’s study did not give evidence of social priming was because their experimental method was not similar to that of “typical” social priming experiments. Well, Rivers and Sherman addressed this thought in their reprint. Remember, these researchers stated that their evidence supported the idea of priming as a whole, and suggested that the reason why other studies did notsupport this topic was partly because of their research methods. So, even though Rivers and Sherman do not directly say this, they suggest that because their findings support priming generally, their methods of research are valid. Now, Discover’slatest article about the reprint recognizes that Rivers and Sherman’s criticism and instead focuses on their argument that Rivers and Sherman’s idea of social priming is completely off, and that they didn’t truly know what social priming is and where it originated from. So, Discovertraces the term back to a study done by Bargh, Chen, and Burrows in 1996. This study, known as the “elderly priming” study, found that using a social concept to prime a participant likely caused them to enactit. For example, exposing participants to rudeness likely influenced them to later act rudely towards an experimenter. The findings of this study, and several similar ones, supported the existence of social priming.

What do you think? Do you think that social priming should be recognized as a type of priming? Or do you think that there is too much contradictory information out there to be able to confidently classify this phenomenon?



The Cognitive Development of Children

When I first started reading relevant articles on cognition, I couldn’t decide what to write about. However, I came across an article referencing Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, who studied children in order to understand the development of cognition. This caught my attention immediately because I am just about to become an aunt. I have babysat many times before and have had several jobs working with children, but I’ve never been around a child long enough to see consistent cognitive development. This article does a great job of explaining Piaget’s theory on the different stages of child development, which is both educational and intriguing, and it raises some interesting questions about what we should do with this information.

This article, titled The 4 Stages of Cognitive Development, starts off by talking about Piaget’s theory. After observing children, Piaget believed that adults were not necessarily smarter than children, humans just have different thought processes at different stages of life. With this in mind, he came up with four stages of intellectual development, a theory, that categorized the different changes in cognition in children into different categories known as stages. Piaget’s theory includes the sensorimotor stage, preoperational stage, concrete operational stage, and formal operational stage. The sensorimotor stage is arguably one of the most important stages, and it involves children from ages of 0 to 2 years old. This stage is said to be when infants use senses and abilities they are born with (vision, hearing, sucking, etc.) to figure out the world. The sensorimotor stage also includes milestones such as reflexes, coordination of reactions (intentional actions), etc. Next, the preoperational stage is said to begin at age 2 and end around age 7. This stage is often noticed as a crucial part of language development in children. In in preoperational stage, children also tend to develop an imagination but at the same time, they struggle to imagine what other people may see. In this case, this lack of perspective is known as egocentrism. Following the preoperational stage is the concrete operational stage which begins at age 7 and goes to about age 11. This stage is all about logic and reasoning. This means that, in the concrete operational stage, children are finally able to think hypothetically. Lastly, the formal operational stage usually lasts from age 12 to adulthood. In this stage, children develop skills to problem solve with logic and reasoning, and their thinking has developed greatly overall.

All in all, this theory has given us a great idea of just how our minds develop from the day we are born. With this being said, the article mentions how much this theory has helped us. It is important to recognize that Piaget’s theory is still used today for educational purposes, meaning that this information tells us just what a child is capable of learning and when. Many educational systems are built around this model, and it is thought to set children up for success. However, there is also a significant amount of criticism surrounding Piaget’s popular research. For instance, it is clear that Piaget started off his research with sample bias. When he first wanted to learn more about child cognition, he observed his own family. Not to mention, his later experiments included children that all came from “well-educated professionals”. This threw generalization out the window because not only did he have a small sample size, but he also had sample bias which means that his data is difficult to apply to the general population. Additionally, many people struggle with the limitations of Piaget’s theory. Many people wonder how accurate this theory truly is. Why don’t all children progress cognitively the way Piaget’s stages says they should? While these stages can be educational, they can be harmful as well. Some parents become concerned when their child doesn’t keep up with the stages. For example, if a child’s language doesn’t properly develop during the preoperational stage, parents may start to panic. Piaget’s theory also doesn’t recognize children with disabilities such as down syndrome, autism, anxiety, etc. Furthermore, it doesn’t mention the effects environmental factors can have on a child’s cognition. Lastly, does Piaget’s theory of stages truly help children, or is it holding them back?

While Piaget’s four stages of cognitive development have shed some light on the changes in a child’s mind, this theory has its faults. There is evidence to show that this theory is accurate; however, Piaget’s research will always be hard to replicate. This is all relevant today because the public doesn’t exactly know what to do with this information. Many people wonder if Piaget’s research can be trusted and argue whether or not it should be applied in educational situations for a child’s benefit. Although, we still do not fully understand cognitive development in children, I think that it is safe to say Piaget’s theory is a great start.

Test Post

Hi! I’m Elena Streeter, but I go by Ellie. This is my test post. I am looking forward to taking this class and cannot wait to learn more about people.