Discuss how cognitive research into context-dependent memory might be applied to improve our memory in everyday life

Discuss how cognitive research into context-dependent memory might be applied to improve our memory in everyday life

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Empirical studies on context-dependent memory date back to Carr Harvey (as cited in Smith & Vela, 2001). Memory is context-dependent, when contextual cues affect remembering (Morris & Gruneberg, 1994). Context-dependent memory implies that contextual information is stored along with the target information. Findings from the research (Godden & Baddeley, 1975; Smith, Glenberg, & Bjork, 1978) indicate that context change alters memorization and recall processes. According to Tulving (1973) the usage of contextual cues can improve the retrieval processes. This notion has been used and its relevance has been further proved by a variety of research.
This essay will discuss context-dependent research on one of the aspects of everyday memory, on eyewitness testimony. It will particularly focus on two directions of eyewitness testimony: cognitive interview and face identification. The discussion will go further on how that research can be applied in real life to facilitate the accuracy of eyewitnesses’ recall and recognition.
The essay will aim to show that despite some obvious limitations of the research, its correct application and attempts to neutralise the hindrances can broadly improve the results of testimonies.
The discussion will start with the cognitive interview area, and will be followed by the face identification topic.
Cognitive interview (or CI) is an interview protocol, which is used to enhance the memories of eyewitnesses by using mnemonic ...


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...& Bjork, R. A. (1978). Environmental context and human memory. Memory & Cognition, 6(4), 342–353. doi:10.3758/BF03197465
Smith, S. M., & Vela, E. (2001). Environmental context-dependent memory: A review and meta-analysis. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(2), 203–220. doi:10.3758/BF03196157
Tulving, E., & Thomson, D. M. (1973). Encoding specificity and retrieval processes in episodic memory. Psychological Review, 80(5), 352–373. doi:10.1037/h0020071
Wilcock, R. A., Bull, R., & Vrij, A. (2007). Are old witnesses always poorer witnesses? Identification accuracy, context reinstatement, own-age bias. Psychology, Crime & Law, 13(3), 305–316. doi:10.1080/10683160600822212
Winograd, E., & Rivers-Bulkeley, N. T. (1977). Effects of changing context on remembering faces. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 3(4), 397–405. doi:10.1037/0278-7393.3.4.397

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