Schema Theory

Schema Theory

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Schema Theory by Mind Map: Schema Theory

1. Key Terms

1.1. Assimilation - Use of existing mental patterns in new situations

1.2. Accommodation - Modification of existing mental patterns to fit new demands or collected information. The mental schemes changes to accommodate new information or experiences

1.3. Effort after meaning - Connecting a stimulus to knowledge or experience we already have makes it easier to store

1.4. Pattern recognition - cognitive process that matches information from a stimulus with information retrieved from memory

1.5. Top-down processing - Information from memory, which is used to process the incoming information

1.6. Bottom-up processing - input from the sensory system

2. Study #1 - Bartlett (1932) War of the Ghosts

2.1. Aim - To investigate whether people's memory for a story is affected by previous knowledge (schemas) and the extent to which memory is reconstructive

2.2. Procedure - Bartlett asked British participants to hear a story and reproduce it after a short time and then repeatedly over a period of months or years (serial reproduction). The story was an unfamiliar Native American legend called "The War of the Ghosts"

2.3. Results - The participants remembered the main idea of the story (the gist) but they changed unfamiliar details to make sense of the story by using terms more familiar to their own cultural expectations. Their story remained a coherent whole although it was changed. It became noticeably shorter for each reproduction.

2.4. Conclusion - Bartlett concluded that remembering is an active process. Memories are not copies of experience, but rather "reconstructions"

2.5. Strengths - The results of the study confirm schema theory (and reconstructive memory), and have been useful in understanding human memory and social cognition. Bartlett is now recognized as one of the first cognitive psychologists.

2.6. Weakness - Participants did not receive standardized instructions and some of the memory distortions may be due to participants' guessing (demand characteristics). It was also performed in a laboratory and can be criticized for lack of ecological validity.

3. Study #2 - Bransford and Johnson (1972)

3.1. Aim - to determine if schema activation would result in better understanding and recall of an ambiguous text.

3.2. Procedure - Irrespective of the group, all participants heard the following tape-recorded passage which was about a narrative about a balloon, containing 14 idea units (details). Participants were instructed, after hearing the passage, to recall it as accurately as they could, and if they could not remember it word for word, to write down as many ideas as possible. They were given seven minutes to do that. 5 conditions: 1. no context 1 - participants simply heard the passage 2. no context 2- participants heard the passage twice 3. context before - prior to hearing the passage, participants were provided with a context picture and given 30 seconds to study it 4. context after - after hearing the passage, participants were provided with a context picture 5. partial context - a context picture was provided before the passage; this picture contained all the objects, but the objects were rearranged

3.3. Results - Group 3, the context before group, recalled 8 out of 14 idea units in the picture, much more than any other group. -Context before had the most significant impact on memory. Using the schema theory, this could show that context before helps encode the info more effectively b/c it creates a stronger mental representation and a store of organized info

3.4. Conclusion - being able to to process new info in relation to the existing scheme improves comprehension and recollection of passage

3.5. Strengths - The study is simplistic and is easily replicated.  This allows researchers to determine the reliability of the findings. Also, the findings of the study have been applied successfully to education, helping students to improve reading skills and retention of information.

3.6. Weaknesses - The study used an independent samples design; participant variability with regard to experience with washing clothes may be a confounding variable.  A repeated measures design would not be possible as the text could not be reused. Also, the task is rather artificial, lacking ecological validity.  However, the task is highly controlled, leading to high internal validity.  This means that a cause and effect relationship can be determined.

4. Brewer & Treyens (1981)

4.1. Aim - To investigate whether people's memory for objects in a room is influenced by their schemas about what they expect in an office

4.2. Procedure - 1. Participants arrived individually into the room and waited in an office for 35 seconds that contained with office objects e.g desks, typewrite, calendar but there were other that seem to not fit with objects e.g. skull, pair of pliers. 2. The participants were let out after some time and told to write everything they remember.

4.3. Results - Most of the participants recalled the schematic objects e.g. desk, typewriter. - Many participants recalled the skull (unexpected things). - Some participants stated things that were not in the room but would be expected in an office e.g telephone, book. They remembered things that were in an office scheme, which weren't even there. - However really unusual things were remembered e.g. the skull.

4.4. Conclusion -Participants' scheme on an office influenced their memory of it. They didn't remember the wine and picnic basket because it isn't part of their "office things" schema.

4.5. Strengths - - Confirms the schema theory and reconstructive memory and It is debriefed

4.6. Weaknesses - - Not generalisable - Laboratory experiment - Use of deception on participants