Remembering the appearance of familiar objects: A study of monarchic memory

Richardson, John T. E. (1992). Remembering the appearance of familiar objects: A study of monarchic memory. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 30(5) pp. 389–392.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03334097

Abstract

Two experiments were conducted to assess people’s ability to remember the orientation of the monarch’s profile on contemporary British coins. Experiment 1 confirmed that, when particular coins are drawn from memory, the likelihood of the Queen’s head being drawn incorrectly as facing to the left was greater than chance. However, an identical bias appeared when other British subjects were simply asked to draw a female human profile. In Experiment 2, British subjects were asked to describe the orientation of the Queen’s head on both coins and postage stamps. Most people were accurate in describing a 20-pence stamp but inaccurate in describing a 20-pence coin. The detailed findings indicated that many British people have a general schema for objects bearing the head of the monarch that is based primarily on their experience with postage stamps, but which is activated when they are asked to retrieve information about coins.

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