Site Loader

According to the
cognitive approach to understanding behavior, mental representations guide
behavior. In other word, images or symbols that are present in our brain
affects the way we behave. The schema theory sates that schemas are mental
representations. Schemas don’t only regulate our behavior but also alternatively
organize, activate to increase memory-processing efficiency, predict an event
or people and insure continuity in the ways we process information. There are three
types of schemas: scripts, self-schema, and social schema. Scripts take account
of events that happen in an unchanging sequence or for short, habits.
Self-schemas are the ones who organize information relating to oneself and
social schemas represent as stereotypical information about a group of people.  As there are three types of schemas, there are
also two types of schema processing: top down and bottom up processing. Top
down processing is when one retrieves information based on one’s experiences and
schemas. For instance, doing a math test. Bottom up processing, on the other
hand, depends on information from our sensory system and features the object to
build perception. For instance, solving a jigsaw puzzle. Schemas can be
problematic when they cause distortions and mistakes. This happens when
settings are unfamiliar and the incorrect schemas get activated. This indicates
that schemas are not fully reliable but our understanding of the schemas is the
result of a lot of work done by Bartlett (1932) and Brandsford and Johnson

Bartlett aimed to
investigate on how schemas affect memory. In this investigation, English males
were included which is most likely as a result of the use of purposive
sampling. The participants’ task was to listen to an unfamiliar Native American
tale called “The War of the Ghosts” and reproduce it. Two techniques were
applied for the reproduction stage, serial reproduction and repeated
reproduction. Serial reproduction is when the first participant reads,
reproduces on paper, which is read and then reproduced by the second
participant, likewise continues until seven reproductions by an equal number of
participants. Those seven reproductions will, then, be made in a separated
interval of 15 minutes to as long as many years which is also known as repeated
reproduction. As a result, it was found that as the reproduction went on the
reproduced story became less accurate. This distortion is due to the
modification of the story by the participants to make it more understandable,
on their perspective, from within their experience and cultural background.
This concludes that schemas affected the participant’s memory in a way that it
is familiar to oneself from his or her experiences and cultural background.
This experiment is a laboratory experiment; therefore, it should be having a
low ecological validity but the fact that Bartlett’s theory of reconstructive
memory has several applications and can explain several real-life situations,
we can say that this experiment has high ecological validity. Methodical
triangulation has, also, been used in this experiment. Not only the researcher
asked to reproduce the story 7 times (Serial reproduction), but those
reproduction has to be made over a certain period of time (repeated reproduction).
This contributes to the validity of the result of the experiment. Moreover, the
experiment is replicable, thus, even if the result of this experiment isn’t
applicable to today’s society anymore due to the development of technology, we
are still able to redo it for an update. However, drawbacks are also present in
this experiment. Firstly, the sample recruited are all males, thus, there is
gender bias which means that this study isn’t applicable to human. Not only
gender but the culture of the samples is also an issue in this study. The
participants are only British, therefore, there is no cross-cultural validity.
Second, the research did not use a large number of samples. For a study to be
valid, 300 participants, at least, has to participate. Finally, the researcher
did not give a standardized instruction when telling the story. In other word,
he did not ask the participants to be as accurate as possible when reproducing.
For an improvement, I would suggest the inclusion of both gender and people of
different culture in the research. Moreover, I’d suggest the use of a huge
amount of sample, about 500, for the research. And lastly, a clear instruction
has to be given out to the participants so that the independent variable is
more controlled.

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

Another study that
explains schema theory is that of Brandsford and Johnson (1972). The aim of the
study was to precisely identify at which phase of the processing does schema
activates and exerts its effect. The three stages involved in memory process
are encoding, storage and then retrieval. Encoding is the transformation of
sensory memory into a meaningful memory. Storage is the creation of biological
traces to store encoded information and retrieval is the use of stored memory.
In the study, the researchers made the participants hear a long speech
conditioned beforehand with three conditions: title, no title, and title after
the speech. As a result, the participants with no title and title after
performing poorly compared to the ones with a title. To conclude with, the
activation of schematic knowledge gave the participants a better understanding
of the speech told while the ones who got the information of the title late did
not either comprehend nor recall the speech as most of the information was
already lost due to the inactivation of the schematic knowledge. What went well
in this experiment is that the researchers did not violate any ethical rules as
it as evident that no harm were inflicted upon the participants (physiological
or psychological), deception was avoided, participants had the right to
withdraw from the experiment and, finally, all participants were given the data
collected and guaranteed anonymity. Moreover, the methodology of the experiment
gave valid result as the instruction were clear. Despite the strength of the
experiment, drawbacks are still present. This experiment is a laboratory
experiment, thus, due to the high specificity of the situation that the
experiment was set, it lacks ecological validity. Furthermore, this experiment
has low cross-cultural validity as it only included one culture. Other cultures
will experience differences in terms of understanding the context thus the
magnitude of error of not adding individuals of different culture is high. To
improve this experiment, I’d suggest to add people from different culture so
that there is cross cultural validity and to collect quantitative or
statistical information on the understanding of the speech to better see the
comparison of the three situations.

In conclusion, both
studies support the schema theory and indicates that schemas are only reliable
to some extent. Additionally, this theory supports the second principles in
cognitive approach to understanding behavior which states that mental
representation, schemas, affect behavior which in this case is memory.

Post Author: admin


I'm Erica!

Would you like to get a custom essay? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out