Memory/ Cognitive Psych

Ratuja, Donna, and Pascal are three friends out shopping at a local mall. Ratuja and Donna are in a jewelry store when a robbery sudden occurs. Glass is heard shattering and an alarm starts sounding. A panicked and hooded figure runs out of the store with a handful of rings and necklaces. Once outside, the criminal pauses to look for an escape route, and then darts off towards the nearest exit.

Security arrives and gathers a few witnesses to get information on the hooded criminal. Ratuja, Pascal, and Donna are among the witnesses brought in for questioning. All the witnesses are questioned at the security station across the way from the jewelry store that was robbed.


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TASK: For this scenario, I want you to think about long-term memory and the many factors that affect the encoding and retrieval of information in situations like these. Think about what you learned about depth of processing, encoding, retrieval, and several other factors that affect people’s recollection of episodic events.

On the following page there is some information about Ratuja, Pascal, and Donna. Use this information to determine which of them would be the most reliable witness. Describe relevant concepts from the chapter that you can infer may be affecting each of their memories for the event. You should highlight at least two, but no more than three, relevant memory concepts per person. Then declare the most reliable witness based on that information.

NOTE: Focus only on memory factors that are evident in the information about the three friends. Don’t make assumptions about things that you have no information about (example, you assume one of the friends could have been rehearsing the perpetrators’ face in their mind without any evidence they were). You must correctly discuss relevant chapter concepts for full credit; as always highlight concepts in bold when you use them.

Information about Ratuja

  • Ratuja was in the jewelry store when the alarm went off. However, she was in a different section of the store from where the crime occurred.
  • Before security arrived, she was talking to other witnesses around her. Some witnesses mentioned seeing a weapon, others described the perpetrator as being blonde. She did not clearly observe a weapon or the perpetrator’s hair color.
  • Ratuja is Indian but the perpetrator appeared to be American or European.
  • Ratuja watches lots of crime shows. Criminals on her shows tend to be male. She saw an episode once where a crook carried a hammer to shatter a case with jewelry in it. The criminals on her shows also tend to wear black outfits and black gloves.
  • Ratuja is one of the last ones interviewed at the security station, which is across from the jewelry store.

Information about Pascal

  • Pascal was not at the jewelry store when the crime occurred, but he was right across from it. He saw the perpetrator when he/she paused outside the store to choose an escape route.
  • He also got a quick look at the perpetrator’s hair, which appeared to be long and brown with blonde highlights. It reminded him of a doll his sister would carry around whenever they played games together. However, he is not too confident about this.
  • He never experienced anything like this before; it was a unique situation for him.
  • He was among the first interviewed at the security station. The interview took place right next to where he was standing when the crime occurred.

Information about Donna

  • Donna was in the jewelry store in the same section as the perpetrator, only a few feet away from him/her before the crime occurred.
  • As soon as she heard the alarm go off, she became very frightened. She was not able to calm down until well after the incident ended. However, she did get a look at the perpetrator as he/she scooped up handfuls of jewelry.
  • This is not the first crime Donna has experienced. She has a vivid memory of when she was in a bank when someone tried to rob it at gun point.
  • Security tried to be very encouraging when they questioned her. They told her “report as much as you can because any information you can provide will be useful.”
  • She was shown pictures of past criminals. Security asked her to rate how confident she was that any of them had committed the crime. She said she was “almost absolutely sure” one of the pictures looked like the thief at the store.
  • Donna was the first one interviewed at the security station across from the jewelry store.