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Do Photos Help People Generate Memories?
Yes, photos help people generate memories successfully. A study carried out by Strange, Garry, Bernstein, and Lindsay (2011) showed that people tend to create false memories when looking at genuine pictures. For instance, when viewing a photo of a specific place, one is likely to insert oneself into the identified environment and, therefore, create a false memory of visiting the place in question (Strange et al., 2011).
The identified phenomenon can be explained by the fact that pictures of actual places, events, etc. provide one’s imagination with the content that is viewed as impossible to detach from reality. The resulting impression of having experienced what is portrayed in the picture leads to the creation of false memories. Therefore, credible pictures do help generate memories despite the absence of relevant experiences.
What Effects Do Sensory Details Have on People’s Memory?
Sensory details affect the generation of false memories extensively. The authors of the study make it clear that placing one in specific visual and spatial systems leads to the production of false memories about having been in the identified systems before (Strange et al., 2011).
The incorporation of sensory elements into the process of remembering specific events and experiences, even if they are false, leads to an even stronger impression of having specific experiences. In other words, visual representations of certain events play a tremendous role in the creation of false memories (Strange et al., 2011). It could also be argued that, by introducing other types of sensory elements, e.g., sounds, tactile experiences, etc., will help build an even stronger false memory of a certain event or experience.
What Is Retrieval Failure?
Before answering the question of what is retrieval failure, one must define for retrieval. According to Baddeley, Eysenck, and Anderson (2015), retrieval occurs when one recalls the information that has been encoded deeply in one’s mind. In other words, retrieval is a synonym for remembering (Baddeley et al., 2015). Retrieval failure, in turn, happens when one fails to recall a certain action, event, etc. (Baddeley et al., 2015).
The memories may return after they are soured by a specific experience that can be related to them, yet, without the supporting information, these memories cannot be produced. Retrieval failure may occur once specific data is transferred to the long-term memory and as long as the data in question is not rehearsed regularly (Baddeley et al., 2015).
What Are the Reasons for Retrieval Failure?
As stressed above, unless the necessary information is repeated regularly, it is stored in long-term memory, which makes the process of remembering rather difficult. Therefore, without the factors that could help sour the process of retrieving forgotten data from long-term memory, one will not be able to recall the required facts. The observed phenomenon can be linked to the one known as the “tip-of-the-tongue experience” (Baddeley et al., 2015, p. 196), which implies that one realizes the familiarity of the subject matter yet inevitably fails to recall the necessary facts.
Making the connections that are termed as associations helps improve the retrieval process since associations serve as the links between the current situation and specific experiences. Allowing one to recollect the necessary information by linking it to the circumstances in which it was received, the use of associations is one of the key strategies for successful retrieval.
Baddeley, A., Eysenck, M. W., & Anderson, M. C. (2015). Memory (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Strange, D., Garry, M., Bernstein, D. M., & Lindsay, D. S. (2011). Photographs cause false memories for the news. Acta Psychologica, 136(1), 90-94. Web.