Memory is the ability to recall what happened in the past or the process through which one’s brain stores events and reproduce them in the future. When one is not able to remember what happened in the past, he/she can be considered to be suffering a memory loss. Memory storage is divided into short-term memory, which is also known as the working memory and the long-term memory. Long-term memory helps one to remember a thing that happened in the recent past. Long-term memory, on the other hand, helps one to remember events that happened a long time ago. As memories move from short time store to long time stores, they tend to be distorted as seen in the article.
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The study done fifteen months after the verdict has 50% accuracy level, while the study done after thirty-two months has a reduced level of accuracy (29%). Retention interval of memory will depend on the emotional attachment a particular event has to a particular person. The more the event affects a person, the higher the retention level and vice versa. This is why it is necessary to ask the people being interviewed how they felt about that particular event and whether they had a direct or indirect relationship with the occurrences of that event. This is connected to the flash bulb memory which represents a very vivid memory stored over a lifetime due to its effects on the people concerned like the case of 9/11.
People tend not to be familiar with how their memories work. This brings about poor memory performance after being retained for a long time in the long-term memory. Personal involvement in an event is also a factor determining whether the retention level will be high or short-lived. From the study of the memory surrounding the verdict in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, it is clear that memory changes from one day to the next owing to the fact that accuracy level reduces as time passes by.
Three days after the verdict the accuracy level could be assumed to be 100%, then the study done after fifteen months had an accuracy of 50% and finally the study done 32 months after the verdict had an accuracy level of 29%. This study was done under all the considerations of the flashbulb memory like the emotional reaction and agreement or disagreement with the verdict. In some other studies, data were collected both shortly after the event and later. From the studies, it is clear that the initial reaction to the original event will to a great extent influence the retention level.
The more emotional people react to an event the easier they will remember it when asked to do so. The data collected from the verdict of O.J. Simpson were put on a scoreboard to analyze the level of memory distortion over time. The results were as discussed above determined by flashbulb memory whereby the people who were affected most by the verdict could remember literary everything as opposed to the people who did not really care about what happened. The scoreboard was divided to no distortion, minor distortion and major distortion categories.
The “no distortion” part on the scoreboard represented a person who had an interest in the matter, the minor distortion part represented a person who was less interested and the major distortion part represented a person who did not have any interest in the matter. In conclusion, it is clear that memory is distorted over time, but the level of distortion will depend on a number of factors, such as the emotional attachment to the happening and the pictorial representation of the event being studied.
Schmolck, H., Buffalo, E. A., & Squire, L. R. (2000). Memory distortions develop over time: Recollections of the OJ Simpson trial verdict after 15 and 32 months. Psychological Science, 11(1), 39-45.