A psychologist asks individuals from England to read a brief Native American tale about a young man who joined a group of men fighting in a battle, only to discover that the battle was between ghosts. After participants read the story twice, the psychologist asks them to write down everything they remembered about the story. He follows up with the participants over the next five years, asking them one time each year to write down as much as they remembered from the story. Each time they wrote down their stories, he rated their accuracy on a scale of 1 to 100, with a rating of 100 indicating complete accuracy, and a rating of 1 indicating no accuracy. Table 1 outlines the average accuracy scores from participants at each timepoint.
TimepointAverage accuracy
After reading98, point, 7, percent
One year60, point, 4, percent
Two years62, point, 6, percent
Three years61, point, 2, percent
Four years60, point, 1, percent
Five years61, point, 1, percent
When he examines the data further, he finds that the participants’ memory of the story changed over time in predictable ways—for example, people tended to change or forget many details within the first year, but then the story remained about the same. In addition, certain elements of the story transformed into details that were more familiar to his English sample. The psychologist concluded that people try to fit new information into schemas, or familiar frameworks of knowledge, in order to help them remember the new information. Based on the information above, what can you conclude about how people encode information into schemas?
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