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Unit 3 Memory: What It is and How to Use It

Getting started

To start thinking about memory, please look at this short video:

1. Click on the link titled “How good of a witness do you think you’d be? Take a test here”.
2. Decide for yourself which of these 6 men was the bomber or if he is not in the line-up.
3. Decide how confident you are of your choice: from 1 = not very confident to 5 = very confident.
4. Now, read the text on the site to find what Dr. Phil’s audience thought.

What do we know about the memory of eyewitnesses? Many cognitive psychologists have studied eyewitness experiences and eyewitness reports and have concluded that the memory of an eyewitness is not at all like a videotape – there just doesn’t seem to be a scene-by-scene record in the witness’ memory from which he or she can read out an accurate report of what took place.

In fact, human memory in general – not just the memory of eyewitnesses but also your own ability to recall what you ate for lunch four days ago, to bring back the name of the woman you met 10 minutes previously at a noisy party, to remember a phone number when you walk from the directory on your screen to your mobile phone in the next room – has some surprising flaws. Yet in other ways memory is very good – an actor can memorize and repeat hundreds of lines of dialogue, you can choose quite accurately which of two faces you saw yesterday, and you can repeat back a joke someone told you last month.

Why is memory sometimes so good and sometimes so bad? What is the nature of human memory and how can we use it well? Those are the questions we will begin to answer in this unit.

Setting Goals

Our learning objectives in this unit are:

o [List here.]

Planning your time

The time required to complete this unit is 10 – 12 hours.