Psychological Research Of The 21st Century: Human Memory Literature Review Chapter

Length: 25 pages Sources: 10 Subject: Literature Type: Literature Review Chapter Paper: #3668581 Related Topics: Human Physiology, Autobiographical, Human Anatomy, 21st Century
Excerpt from Literature Review Chapter :

¶ … Human Memory


This literature review upon human memory will cover a fairly wide spectrum of ideas regarding the subject. While there will be a number of connections among the divisions or categories of this literature review, there will certainly be several distinctions or differences among them. The psychological research a part of the review will span, roughly, the duration of the 21st century thus far, with a few sources of research having taken place in 1999, just before the turn of the century. The review will approach the selected body of psychological research on human memory by dividing the research loosely into the following sections: memory distortion, repressed memories, body memory, and the changes in perspective on memory with respect to appropriate psychological/psychotherapeutic treatment.

The section of the review that focuses upon memory distortion will identify that memory distortion does, in fact, occur. The research presented in that section will additionally attempt to describe what the factors of memory distortion are. Research in this section will additionally discuss why because of memory distortion, why memory cannot be the only or primary evidence in a criminal investigation, or in other matters of law. The section of the review regarding repressed memories will provide a definition for repressed memories, as well as theories on how they form, how they can be retrieved, and their vulnerability to external manipulation. This section additionally reviews research that connects repressed memories to memories of and experiences of trauma.

The section on body memory will provide definitions and theories behind the validity of body memory. Essentially, the theories are based on the supposition that the brain is a muscle, and is the site of a great deal of human memory storage, yet the body is full of muscles as well, which have their own kinds of memories. Researchers contend that the memories of the body are just as valuable, valid, and arguably, more accurate or retain greater reliability than those memories stored in the brain.

The literature review will also include with a section about the old and new perspectives on human memory, particularly as they relate to methods of treatment (psychotherapy, etc.). This shift in thinking and perspective on the subject of human memory can be attributed to a number of factors, including that there shifts of thought and perspective in any area of study on a fairly regular basis (from a historical perspective). This shift may additionally be attributed to the change in the centuries, as many areas of thought, research and study experienced a shift or other sort of change with the coming of the 21st century.

Literature Review

As the 21st century approached, Daniel Schacter of Harvard University conducted and published research that seemed revolutionary or radical at the time -- research that fell upon the "wrong side" of the arguments regarding the structure, capacity, and function of human memory.

We are all affected by memory's shortcomings in our everyday lives, and scientists have studied them for decades. But there have been few attempts to systematically organize or classify the various ways in which memory can lead us astray and to assess the state of the scientific evidence concerning them. Given the scientific attention paid recently to the fallibility of memory, and the important real-world consequences that are sometimes associated with forgetting and distortion… (Schacter, 1999, 183)

His research, then is an attempt to perform precisely what he claims is lacking or that was lacking in the body of contemporary psychological research of that time. His work was an attempt to classify and organize the ways that memory cannot be relied upon with the use of scientific inquiry and research. Memory is so essentially that...


In the time that Schacter's work was in the present, and in the modern moment that this literature review is composed, there is still a great deal that is unknown regarding the working of human consciousness, and how human consciousness functions with specific respect to memory. This is to say that the gap that Schacter detected is somewhat expected and understandable, as even fifteen years later after his research was current, there is still more we do not know, though we claim to have advanced regarding technology and perspective.

Based upon this lack or gap in the research that Schacter detected, he created an extended metaphor to structure and support his research, comparable to the "seven deadly sins" as described in the Judeo-Christian text, the Holy Bible. He organized his work into the sins of the human memory. He used this extended metaphor to reach readers who may not be as well versed in the complexities of human memory as it applies to psychology and neuroscience primarily, though he does site that much of what he based his ideas upon is firmly grounded in his studies in cognitive, social and clinical psychology. Therefore, this research, though compact and succinct, is dense with psychological research from various branches, very well linked and built upon for further exploration or trajectory into a new, promising direction. He writes:

I suggest that memory's transgressions can be divided into seven basic "sins." I call them transience, absent-mindedness, blocking, misattribution, suggestability, bias, and persistence. The first three sins reflect different types of forgetting…The next three sins all involve distortion or inaccuracy…The seventh and final sin…refers to pathological remembrances: information or events that we cannot forget, even though we wish we could. (Schacter, 1999, 183)

This organization of memory's "sins" is revealing about how we understand memory to work. It is also revealing regarding how we understand memory to malfunction. Knowing how memory works and does not work is of great assistance to psychological researchers and those who practice psychotherapy. It is not just that memory malfunctions (or does not always work the ways that we want it to or can control), the greater significance is the methods in which memory malfunctions and distorts.

Schacter's research demonstrates that understanding the vulnerabilities and fallibilities of memory help us understand how memory functions and can provide insight onto how to strengthen and stabilize it. Schacter additionally questions whether these inaccuracies in memory are actually normal -- that forgetting, distortions, persistence -- these are the natural ways in which human memory operates, and that they are not accidents or errors, but a part of how human memory is supposed to work, which is an intriguing and possibly controversial perspective to consider.

Human memory is not just important because we need it in order to perform tasks, including self-care. Human memory is vital as it relates to individual identity. We need our memories so that we know who we are. Our memories help us construct and maintain who we think we are, who we have been, and who we may become in the future. Conway & Pleydell-Pearce (2000) performed their psychological research on the human memory with respect to its connection to self-identity and what they call, "autobiographical memories," which are memories that we have of ourselves from our pasts, or the memories we have of past versions of ourselves -- sort of like our own self mythologies that we base our past senses of self upon that absolutely have direct effects upon who we think we are presently, and the potential for who we will become in the future. They assert:

Nearly all researchers in this area consider there to be an important and strong relation between the self and autobiographical memory. Brewer (1986), for example, argued that the inherent self-referring nature of autobiographical memories was a defining feature that distinguished these memories from all other types of long-term knowledge. Robinson (1986) proposed that autobiographical memories were a "resource" of the self that could be used to sustain or change aspects of the self. Indeed, memories have been found to be closely related to aspects of personality & #8230;trait information…patterns of adult attachment…and goal change and emotions… (Conway & Pleydell-Pearce, 2000, 264)

Without autobiographical memories, people would not know who they are, or who they have been. Additionally, autobiographical memories are essential to personality and identity cohesion. People rely heavily upon their memories of who they were to explain who they are presently. Autobiographical memories have the potential for significant and widespread influence in an individual's life. Autobiographical memories can serve as significant predictors of and determinants over a person's entire lifespan. A person may make decisions about whom they choose to socialize with based on autobiographical memories. A person may choose an educational or career path based on who he/she remembers being as a younger version of themselves based on his/her autobiographical memories. Keeping in mind the pliability and malleability of human memory in general, autobiographical memory has the potential to be…

Sources Used in Documents:


Conway, M.A. & Pleydell-Pearce, C.W. (2000). The Construction of Autobiographical Memories in the Self-Memory System. Psychological Review, 107(2), 261 -- 288.

Health Services Commissioner. (2005). Inquiry into the Practice of Recovered Memory Therapy. Health Services Commissioner of Australia, Victoria, AU. Print.

Johnson, M.K. (2001). Psychology of False Memories. International Encyclopedia of Social & Behavioral Sciences, 5254 -- 5259.

Leijssen, M. (2006). Validation of the Body in Psychotherapy. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 46(2), 126 -- 146.
Psychotherapy & Counselling Federation of Australia. (2005). PACFA: Draft Guidelines for Working with Recovered Memories. Available from: 2014 February 20.
Vaccaro, PhD, G., & Lavick, J. (2008). Trauma: Frozen Memories, Frozen Lives. The Body, Web, Available from: 2014 February 20.

Cite this Document:

"Psychological Research Of The 21st Century Human Memory" (2014, February 28) Retrieved September 27, 2022, from

"Psychological Research Of The 21st Century Human Memory" 28 February 2014. Web.27 September. 2022. <>

"Psychological Research Of The 21st Century Human Memory", 28 February 2014, Accessed.27 September. 2022,

Related Documents
21st Century Oedipus: A Blind
Words: 1420 Length: 4 Pages Topic: Psychology Paper #: 3439863

" Pioneer psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud was fascinated by the story of King Oedipus, as Sophocles depicted him within Oedipus the King, as a work of literature. Clearly, however, Freud also recognized how Sophocles's story, at least in a literal sense if not a figurative or psychological one, paralleled his particular new theory of early childhood development, that at the four-year-old stage, a child "falls in love" with the opposite sex parent

Static Learning in the 21st
Words: 12488 Length: 45 Pages Topic: Teaching Paper #: 64826198

Millions of dollars are spent on test-prep manuals, books, computer programs and worksheets (Gluckman, 2002). Static/captive learning can help teachers around the nation prepare their students for standardized testing. Significance of the Study to Leadership A principal is the leader of the campus. The challenge for the principal is to know his or her district's mandated curriculum and make sure teachers are able to deliver it (Shipman & Murphy, 2001). As

Racial Bias/Stereotypes on Eyewitness Memory
Words: 3215 Length: 10 Pages Topic: Race Paper #: 57073635

Sam Stone! And guess what he did this time? He asked to borrow my Barbie and when he was carrying her down the stairs, he accidentally tripped and fell and broke her arm" (570)) Following Sam's actual visit, an interview conducted in an informal style by eliciting a free narrative form each of the four different groups who had seen Sam Stone revealed that the stereotype- fed group resulted

Behavioral Finance Human Interaction a Study of the Decision-Making...
Words: 22258 Length: 81 Pages Topic: Economics Paper #: 76441446

Behavioral Finance and Human Interaction a Study of the Decision-Making Processes Impacting Financial Markets Understanding the Stock Market Contrasting Financial Theories Flaws of the Efficient Market Hypothesis Financial Bubbles and Chaos The stock market's dominant theory, the efficient market hypothesis (EMH) has been greatly criticized recently for its failure to account for human errors, heuristic bias, use of misinformation, psychological tendencies, in determining future expected performance and obtainable profits. Existing evidence indicates that past confidence in the

Fight Club
Words: 2793 Length: 9 Pages Topic: Literature Paper #: 17284776

Disassociation, Personality Disorders, & Global Capitalism: Open Your Eyes to the Fight Club Fight Club is a cinematic adaptation of a novel of the same title; therefore, the novel will be referenced peripherally in this work. While the focus of the paper will be upon Fight Club, in an effort to expand the context of the ideas to be discussed, the essay will also include analysis of a related Spanish film, Abre

Teens and the Media One
Words: 4544 Length: 11 Pages Topic: Children Paper #: 39988476

The extreme power of this new cultural tool is the very nature -- it depends on nothing but an electronic connection. it, like many things in the modern world, is instantaneous, satisfying the 21st century need to have both dependence and independence based on our own decision or whim. Therein lies the confusion for many -- just how real is an electronic friendship that can exist without really "knowing"