Influences on memory

Memory Studies 4 (4):355-359 (2011)
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The study of remembering is both compelling and challenging, in part, because of the multiplicity and the complexity of influences on memory. Whatever their interests, memory researchers are always aware of the many different factors that can drive the processes they care about. A search for the phrase ‘influences on memory’ confirms this daunting and exhilarating array of influences, of many different kinds, operating at many different timescales, and presumably often interacting in ways that we can’t yet imagine, let alone model. There are hormonal and neuromodulatory, genetic and pharmacological, developmental and age-related influences; there are influences of arousal, stress, gender, mood, emotion, sleep and personality; there are unconscious, schematic or semantic influences, and there are influences of context, situation, task and environment. There are many aspects of ‘media influence on memory’ (Loftus and Banaji, 1989; Strange and Garry, 2007), and, of course, there are both ‘social influences on memory’ (Echterhoff and Hirst, 2009) and ‘cultural influences on memory’ (Gutchess and Indeck, 2009). Notoriously, there are numerous ‘suggestive influences’ on memory (Loftus, 2003): influences of misinformation (Seifert, 2002; Wright and Loftus, 1998), or of ‘memory conformity’ (Gabbert et al., 2006) and ‘memory contagion’ (Roediger et al., 2002). People who know each other well, such as intimate couples, ‘may be well practised in yielding to each other’s influence and incorporating their partner’s information into their own memories of the past’ (French et al., 2008: 264).
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