Learning & Teaching Foreign Languages

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War of the Ghosts

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Bartlett conducted a number of early experiments on memory, asking subjects to retell unfamiliar stories a number of times at intervals of sometimes many years.  He found that people tended to reshape the stories to conform more closely to stories typical in their own culture.  He called these typical story templates schemata.

His best-known stimulus story was The War of the Ghosts, a Native American legend, which you can read for yourself.

This example, and the notion of schemata, are discussed by modern psychologists in a 30-minute BBC radio programme in a series about landmark experiments in psychology.  (This Mind Changers series also includes episodes on experiments by Bandura, Piaget and Watson.)

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