This post is by Sarah Robins (pictured above), an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and affiliate member of the Cognitive and Brain Sciences Program in Psychology at the University of Kansas. Her research is at the intersection of philosophy and psychology, with a primary focus on memory. In this post she summarises her recent paper ‘Misremembering’, published in Philosophical Psychology.
Thanks, Ema, for the invitation to talk about my recent paper ‘Misremembering’ with Imperfect Cognitions readers.
The paper began from my fascination with one of the most common experimental techniques for eliciting memory errors: the Deese-Roediger-McDermott, or DRM, paradigm (Deese 1959; Roediger and McDermott 1995). I am fascinated because these errors display a blend of success and failure (on which I will elaborate on below). In the paper, I argue that they are best viewed as a distinct type of error, misremembering. I go on to argue that we lack a theory of memory that can explain misremembering. I divide theories of memory into two broad groups: traditional Archival accounts and contemporary Constructive ones. Each is insensitive to the explanatory demands of misremembering errors, but in a distinct way. In short, Archival accounts do well at explaining memory’s successes and Constructive accounts do well at explaining memory’s failures. But since misremembering errors involve success and failure, they present a challenge to both.