Date of Graduation

5-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level

Undergraduate

Department

Psychological Science

Advisor

Lampinen, James M

Reader

Leen-Feldner, Ellen W

Second Reader

Collie, Sara J

Third Reader

Billings, Sabrina J

Abstract

An average of 1,700 missing persons cases are filed everyday in the United States (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013). With such a large number of people placed in potential danger, their security is the utmost concern to families, communities, and consequently our society (Spilman, 2006). In response to people going missing, police departments often use news teams and photos to exhort the public to be on the lookout for these missing persons (Tarling & Burrows, 2004). As a result, people practice what is called Prospective Person Memory. Prospective person memory is a cognitive process involving people correctly identifying a face they have been told to be on the lookout for (Lampinen, Arnal, & Hicks, 2009a). Improving the public’s ability to identify missing people greatly improves the ability to locate missing persons (Lampinen, 2009a). In this experiment, participants viewed photos of a missing person they were informed to be on the lookout for, were exposed to the actual missing person shortly after, and tested on their ability to correctly identify and report the sighting. This experiment measured the effects of differing expectancy levels, number of pictures viewed, and appearance changes between photos to the actual person on prospective person memory. Results from this experiment showed that there was no statistical significance between conditions. The experiment, its implications, and limitations are discussed.

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