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Frederic Bartlett
Born 20 October 1886
Died 30 September 1969 (age 82)
Nationality British
Fields psychology
Institutions University of Cambridge
Known for memory schema (psychology)

Sir Frederic Charles Bartlett (20 October 1886 – 30 September 1969) was a British psychologist and the first professor of experimental psychology at the University of Cambridge. He took up his chair in 1931 and held it until his retirement in 1951. With Kenneth Craik he was responsible for setting up the Medical Research Council's Applied Psychology Research Unit (APU) at Cambridge in 1944, becoming Director of the unit after Craik's early death in 1945. He was one of the forerunners of cognitive psychology. However, while Bartlett considered his own work on cognitive psychology, especially remembering, to be a study in social psychology more recent developments have individualised his concepts.

One of his most famous studies was on the cognitive and social processes of remembering. He composed a series of short fables (the best known was called The War of the Ghosts[1]), each of which comprised a sequence of events which were ostensibly logical but subtly illogical, and there were several discreet non-sequiturs. He would recite this story to subjects, then later (sometimes much later) ask them to recall as much of it as possible. He discovered that most people found it extremely difficult to recall the story exactly, even after repeated readings, and hypothesised that, where the elements of the story failed to fit into the schemata of the listener, these elements were omitted from the recollection, or transformed into more familiar forms[2].

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1932 (a rare distinction for a psychologist), and knighted in 1948 for services to the Royal Air Force, on the basis of his wartime work in applied psychology.

The U.K. Ergonomics Society awards a Bartlett medal in his honour, and the Experimental Psychology Society holds an annual Bartlett Lecture.



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