Memories Serve as a “Database” of the Self

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While we may think that our memories are solid, they are always changing and often unreliable. We frequently think that our memories are accurately storing and documenting everything that happens to us. Memories serve as a “database” of the self and people often fabricate distorted memories that support their self-concept (Rodriguez, Strange, 2015). Once information has been engraved into our memory, it can still be altered. “Memory has been defined as a sort of framework that encodes, stores, processes, and retrieves information from an individual’s past and present experience” (Klein, 2018).

Individuals tend to learn better when there is a topic that they are interested in (Fastrich, Kerr, & Castel, 2018). When the topic is one that catches an individual’s eye, they are more likely to remember it. Previous studies have shown that perceived interest is certainly related to later recall certain texts (Schraw, Bruning, & Svoboba, 1995). One possible method is that individuals aim to fill knowledge gaps with uncertain information (Fastrich, Kerr, & Castel, 2018).

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Memories are not stored in the way that computer files are and do not stay the same over time. Our memories our time adapt to fit the expectations of an individuals most recent experience. Strong emotions affect how we retrieve past experiences. Strong emotions affect how we retrieve past experiences. The fallibility of our memories can make it appear that the misinformation individuals are telling themselves is true and reliable. There is also this idea of malleability in memory. Memories can contain errors regarding what happened, who was apart of that event, and where it took place (Kaplan, Damme, Levine, & Loftus, 2016). These errors can easily be manipulated and fabricated.

An individual’s imagination is often filled with distortions. Human beings are often subject to recollect events that they did not experience (Bookbinder & Brainerd, 2016). The way that recollect memories can impact their decisions and judgment now and in future situations. The events that are misremembered are false in that they are not a part of the particular context of the event an individual experienced. Individuals can be led to recall events that never occurred (Damme, Kaplan, Levine, & Loftus, 2016). According to Baker and Porter (2015) false memories form because an individual believes that the event actually occurred, that this event took place, or an interviewer influences the fantasy of the event as a memory.

The major purpose of the current research is to examine the influence of mood and visual details on an individual’s memory. What an individual is interested in facilitates memory performance (Fastrich, Kerr, & Castel, 2018). Individuals encounter new information every day and often focus on the information they want to remember. It is important for one to consider how emotions can influence the way individuals recall details. As well as false memories have the ability to help individuals in the future with problem solving tasks (Bui, Friedman, McDonough, & Castel, 2013).

Certain memories can hold powerful emotions that are vivid but not necessarily accurate (Kaplan, 2016). Emotional arousal impairs memory and increases susceptibility to misinformation. Whether the emotion has a negative or positive tone it can still affect an individual’s vulnerability to false memories. Negative emotions are presented when problems arise, while positive emotions are presented when there no problems that require attention (Kaplan, 2016). Some researchers have found that individuals with positive emotion are more vulnerable to misinformation than those with negative emotion. Misleading information regarding emotional events can lead individuals to form false memories.

One powerful influence that leads individuals to false memories is implanted photographs and narratives. In a recent study, Hessen-Kayfitz, Scoboria, & Nespoli (2017) examined the specificity of certain photographs and the influence those photographs have on the formation of false memories. Hessen-Kayfitz, Scoboria, and Nespoli revealed that specificity of the photographs used when implicating false events decreases false memory information. One other study had undergraduate students view highly positive and negative photograph, later had them respond to a series of questions regarding the details of both photographs (McDougall, Porter, Bellhouse, & Brinke, 2010).

In order to test whether emotions will affect an individual’s ability to recall details, video clips can be used to provoke certain emotions. We adopted the idea of the scenic false memory paradigm (Moradi, Rahimi-Movaghar, Heydari, Abdollahi, Dalgleish & Jobson, 2015). In this study the researchers used video scenes regarding the emotional content, which were short in duration and presented those videos to their participants. Providing specific videos to evoke sadness, happiness, and a neutral emotion will provide evidence that emotions can influence the formation of false memories. Testing whether the amount of visual details remembered influences false memories a series of questions must be presented to participants of the current study. We adopted the idea of misleading and no misleading questions (Porter, Bellhouse, McDougall, Brinke, & Wilson, 2010). By asking a set of 15 questions containing half misleading questions and no misleading questions, we can determine what is accurately being remembered.

We constructed two hypotheses. First based on the influences of mood, we predicted that participants who watch the video that induces a happy emotion will be able to correctly recall more details from the short story than those who were placed in the sad or neutral group (Hypothesis 1). Second based on the amount of visual details, we predicted participants who read the story with more visual details will incorrectly recall those details during the questionnaire (Hypothesis 2).

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