The Role of Schematic Eyewitness-Memory Material on the Retrieval-Induced For getting Paradigm
Riser, Rebecca E.
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The purpose of this experiment was to replicate the retrieval-induced forgetting (RIF) paradigm using schematic material (RIF procedures typically employ simple word lists). Eyewitness material, both schema consistent and inconsistent, were used. It was hypothesized that schema inconsistent (i.e., crazy) material would be least vulnerable to RIF due to the salience of the material, and that schema consistent (i.e., normal) and schema slightly inconsistent (i.e., aberrant) material would result in greater RIF (with schema aberrant material being most vulnerable to RIF). One hundred twenty one UCLA undergraduates were assigned to 1 of 16 conditions (each of which contained two of four different hypothetical crime stories with retrieval practice and final recall tests on material in the stories). Conditions contained either schema-normal and schema-aberrant words, or schema- normal and schema-crazy words in a crime scenario. There were also theft-related and non-theft-related crimes. Packets also varied by which material received retrieval practice (RP+ items), and which received no retrieval practice (RP-, same category, no practice or NRP-, different category no practice). Results indicated that RIF does not occur in all schematic material, but that RIF occurs in the schemacrazy condition when crazy words are RP+ items, but not in the schema-crazy condition where normal words are RP+ items, and that RIF occurs in the schema-aberrant condition where normal words are RP+ items, but not in the aberrant condition in which the aberrant words are RP+ items. These findings suggest that repeatedly questioning a witness about the schemainconsistent aspects of a crime can lead to the later inability to recall the schema-consistent aspects of a crime, and that questioning a witness about typical aspects of a crime can result in the forgetting of aberrant information about a crime, indicating that the order of police questioning affects how accurately the witness recalls crime details.