- Where Psychology Becomes Easy

Psychology Unit 2

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Unit 1 Cognitive Revision

Cognitive spec: Download spec


Information processing - This is a framework which can be used to explain and describe the mental processes. The model is usually compares the brain to how a computer works.

Memory - Memory is a process of getting information into the brain (encoding), keeping information in the brain over time (storage), and then being able to get information out of the brain when needed (retrieval).


Forgetting - Forgetting is the loss of memory. When you forget something, it cannot be recalled


Storage - Storage is a memory-related term that refers to the ability to retain information in the brain (in memory), we have different types of storage; short-term memory and long-term memory.

Retrieval - Retrieval is the process in which information in your memory can be recalled.


The methodology explained in the social approach is the same used in the cognitive approach. There are other features of experiments that you need to know such as the three types of experiment - laboratory, field and natural experiments.

Laboratory experiments
  • These are experiments carried out in an artifical controlled setting. The controls within a lab experiement are very tight.
  • The IV is manipulated in some way by using more than one condition where a group of ppts will be asked to do one thing such as recall a list of words that had a similar theme such as Disney characters and the other group will be asked to recall a list of words that didn't have a theme
  • The DV is recorded, for example, the amount of words that were recalled in each group (theme & no theme)
  • Ppt and situational variables would be controlled in a laboratory experiment by making sure the time of day was the same (situational)
  • The aim of a lab experiment is to find a cause-and-effect conclusion 

Field experiments

  • These experiments are very similar to laboratory experiments but instead they are carried out in the ppts natural setting (schools, hospitals, or a prison etc.)
  • Everything else is the same in which a lab experiment is carried out which include the controls, IV & DV

Natural experiments

  • This type of experiment is also carried out in a ppts natural environment
  • However, everything that occurs in this type of experiment is natural as there are no controls over the IV & DV or the ppts & situational variables
  • (Unit 3 criminology - Yuille & Cutshall's experiment is an example of a natural experiment, if you are interested in reading ahead)


 Good controls which means that it can be replicated and can therefore be tested for reliability
 More ecologically valid than laboratory experiments because they take place in natural settings
Independent variable occurs naturally, so its valid as its not artificially set up
Good controls; cause-and-effect relationship can be established
Fairly replicable because of experimental features
Tend to take place in a natural environment so likely to be ecologically valid


So controlled that tasks may not give valid results because they are not natural/ realistic
Natural setting, so it's hard to control all the factors, which means results may be less valid
Difficult to control variables because the independent variables is naturally occurring, making it difficult to isolate all factors that might affect results
Environment unnatural and controlled , so not ecologically valid
Hard to control because of natural setting, so may not be replicable
Hard to control for experimenter effects; using a double-blind technique is not straightforward because most are carried out in natural settings
Experimenter effects can mean results are not valid because there may then be a bias
Experimenter effects can mean results are not valid because there may then be bias
Revision Tip
When you are read the content in this section it gives you clues in how you can remember certain information
e.g. Keep going over the content over and over again for it to be stored in your LTM store. Make sure you are in a similar environment, for example revise in a silent room with no noise (no music!)


Clive Wearing - The man with no short-term memory
(full clip)

A video all about eye-witness testimony

Experimental (participant) designs
  • Independent groups

This is where there are different participant for each condition within the experiment. So each group will experience different conditions.

E.g. One group learns and recall words that have meaning and a different group  learns and recalls random words

  • Repeated measures

All the conditions will involve the same participants

E.g. The person who learns and recalls the words that have colour meaning is also the person who learns and recalls random words

  • Matched pairs

Again, different participants are in the conditions but the participants are matched so that the two groups have similar people

E.g. One ppt in group 1 may be 19yrs old & male then another ppt in group 2 to will also be 19yrs old & male

Experimental hypothesis

  • In most studies there is a hypothesis, a hypothesis is a statement/prediction made by the researcher
  • There are different types of hypothesis which are: null hypothesis and alternative hypothesis
  • The null hypothesis is there being no difference as predicted
  • The alternative hypothesis is that there is a difference as predicted

A Hypothesis can be either directional or non-directional

  • This means that there is a prediction of what will happen in the study (directional) or there isn't a defiant prediction made (non-directional)

Order effects, counterbalancing and randomisation

  • Order effects happen within studies that have the same ppts doing the different conditions and have the same procedure. Order effects means that ppts may be able to guess what each condition is looking for and therefore be able to get practise and do better or get tired, and do worse (fatigue effect)
  • Counterbalancing happens to avoid order effects, by alternating the order in which the ppt do each conditions
  • Also randomisation can also be done to reduce order effects as the order in which the ppts does the conditions is chosen randomly


 Theories of forgetting - Godden and Badeley (Cue-dependent)
 Theories of Memory - Craik and Tulving (LOP)
   Cue-dependent forgetting
  Levels of processing framework (LOP)
   Trace decay
 Multi-store model
Theories/models of forgetting
Trace decay
  • When we remember something a group of nerve cells become active leaving a neural representation of what we have learnt.

                       -This means a memory trace

  • when we rehears and repeat, the trace becomes stronger
  • Without rehearsal and repeating of the information, the info learnt will start to DECAY


  • Tests are normally lab based, so they have good controls over the experiment and therefore it can be replicable
  • Peterson & Peterson showed through their investigation that the trace deaced through the 3-18second time delay, which prevented rehearsal [short-term memory has a limited duration when rehearsal is prevented]


  • Conflicts with the interference theory of forgetting as forgetting could be because of the interference of the tasks given
  • It is hard to test because of the different periods of time may increase rehearsal - strengthing the trace
Cue-dependent theory Diagram
Click image to enlarge
Theories/Models of memory
Multi-store model
There are three memory stores
  1. Sensory store
  2. Short-term store
  3. Long-term store
  • The sensory store is very short lasting as it lasts up to 2 seconds if its not attended to, its lost
  • STM store receives information from the sensory store, the information lasts up to 30 seconds without rehearsal. If it's not rehearsed then it is lost
  • If it is rehearsed it is transferred to the LTM store which has the greatest duration (forgetting is still possible as we are not able to access all our memories when we need them - sometimes comes during certain cues)


  • Brain damage patients prove that there are separate STM and LTM stores
  • There is evidence that the capacity in the STM and LTM are very different (7± 2 chunks= STM, there are no known limits to LTM)


  • It doesn't explain how the change is made in encoding from acoustic (sound) in the STM to semantic (meaning) in the LTM
  • Its pays little attention to memory processing in detail
Click image to enlarge

Studies in detail

Describe and evaluate in detail Godden and Baddeley’s (1975) study of cue dependent forgetting/memory and one other study of memory or forgetting in the Cognitive Approach.

Other study picked:

Craik and Tulving (1975) Levels of processing