The reliability of human memory, though typically seen as quite accurate and trust- worthy, has been questioned by researchers in recent decades. In particular, one area of memory that has raised questioning is emotional memories that are extraordinarily vivid and detailed, which were first referred to as flashbulb memories' in 1977 by Roger Brown and James Kulak, which occur due to powerful events such as the death of Princess Diana, and the terrorist attacks on 9/1 1 . These memories are not as reliable as perceived, and do not provide accurate details of past events liable.
This can be seen in the following two Journal articles; one which looks at memory recollection after 9/1 1 occurred over 3 different time periods, straight after, 1 year after and 3 years after, and the other looks at the flashbulb memories produced after the nuclear attacks in Japan in 1999. It is important to adopt the idea that flashbulb memories do not provide accurate details of past events reliably, and more so look at them Just like every other memory. The first Journal article examines long-term retention of memory from the tragedy hat is the terrorist attacks of September 1 1 .
The study had over 3000 individuals from seven US cities report on their learning of the attacks, as well as details about the attack, one week, 11 months and 35 months after the assault. The following were focused on in the study: " (1) the long-term retention of flashbulb and event memories, (2) the comparative retention of emotional reactions with the retention of other features of a flashbulb event, (3) possible difference in the underlying processing associated with the formation and retention of flashbulb and event memories, and (4) the factors that shape long-term retention, including the role of memory practices. " (Hirsh W.
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Et al, 2009, Para. 3) The study was conducted simply through 3 similarly designed surveys for the different time periods, with the first 6 questions relating to developing consistency of flashbulb memories, the next 4 on the accuracy of event memories, and the remaining questions on predictors, with confidence levels recorded for each answer as well. Concluding the research study, it was found that the rate of forgetting for flashbulb memories and event memory lows after a year, the strong emotional reactions drawn out by flashbulb events are remember poorly, and that the content of flashbulb and event memories stabilizes after a year.
The second Journal article consists of a study that looks at the nuclear accident that occurred in Japan, in 1999 and whether or not different aspects such as the source, place, activity or people have an effect on the accuracy of flashbulb memories. The study was conducted through a questionnaire which was distributed twice; 3 weeks and a year after the event occurred, to people that lived on the site of the bombing as ell as in the surrounding area. The questionnaire asked such questions as "from where did you receive the news? And, "how many times did you talk about it with other people? " at both time periods to see the consistency of answers, along side to see if there was any outside influence on the persons memory. The results from the study determined that only a small portion of participants indicated accurate flashbulb memories, alongside this, those that did have accurate flashbulb memories reported rehearsing the memory more than those that had inaccurate memories - his encourages the idea that flashbulb memories are formed through rehearsal, rather than at encoding. (Attain, h. , et al. , 2005, p. ) Like every study, the one regarding September 1 lath also has strengths and weaknesses when collecting and evaluating the data to come to a conclusion on the accuracy of flashbulb memories, however the strengths of the study outweigh that of the weaknesses. The first strength of the study is that it provides data not only from one time period from when the event occurred, but from multiple so that it can not only look at how much is remembered over a certain period of time, but also to an extent at what rate memory retention declines, as well as stabilizes, which as mentioned earlier the rate of forgetting slows after a year.
Another strength of the study is that by providing confidence levels, it also helps to show whether or not the person doing the survey was guessing to fill in the answers, or if they genuinely believed what their memory was telling them, which as a result showed on a whole that memory is not as trustworthy as perceived, with many people reporting different Tories several years later, with very high confidence levels. Weaknesses are also evident in the study, however not as weighted as the strengths for it.
One weakness that is prominent in the study is that because the survey is not done in a controlled environment, and is rather sent in the mail to the person, when completing the survey there could be other factors in the persons home which may potentially affect what they are thinking at the time, and thus could provide inaccurate data in the long run. Another weakness in the study, although it does not have too large of an impact, s that health issues had not been accounted for, which in turn could potentially alter the overall data.
Overall it can be seen that the strengths of the study outweigh that of the weaknesses, and therefore the study provides accurate data which in turn shows that flashbulb memories do not provide accurate details of past events reliably. The study conducted regarding the nuclear accident in Japan has numerous strengths and weaknesses involved in the collection and evaluation of the data, which ultimately affects the outcome of the study.
In this study the strengths outweighed that of the weaknesses. The first noticeable strength in the study is that it looks at the four different aspects - the source, place, activity and people - which provides a broader understanding of what information, if any, is retained accurately. Though from the study it showed that each factor didn't have too large of an impact, and that flashbulb memory is not as accurate as first thought.
Another strength of the study is that unlike in the first study, for this one the exact same questionnaire was used at both different time periods, so that it is a lot easier to compare insistence, rather than having different questions which potentially could be interpreted incorrectly. Alongside the strengths of the study, there are also weaknesses, one of which being that it does not look at lengthier time periods after the event happened, and it only looks at 2, unlike the other study which looked at 3.
This could throw out the overall results of the study, however it still provides a general idea. Another weakness in the study is that Just like the first study, it does not take into account peoples health problems, or even age, which has a chance of providing incorrect data. However, looking at the strengths of the study, they outweigh the weaknesses in the sense that they show that flashbulb memories do not provide accurate details of past events reliably.
In conclusion, the human memory, is not reliably accurate in providing details of past events. This was shown specifically after analyzing different Journal articles that look at flashbulb memories. In conclusion to the Journal article that tested flashbulb memory against the 9/1 1 attacks, it was concluded that the strong emotional reactions drawn out by flashbulb events are remember poorly, and that the content f flashbulb and event memories stabilizes after a year.
In the following study that was conducted after the nuclear accident that occurred in Japan in 1999 was analyses, it was concluded that the idea that flashbulb memories are formed through rehearsal, rather than at encoding. After analyzing the following articles, it has been concluded that flash bulb memory is not and has not been reliable for recollecting events accurately. For future research for each of the studies, the surveys should be consistent over the time period so that accurate information is collected.
Also, health ND age should be taken into account to reduce risk for incorrect data.
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