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Posts Tagged ‘False Memory’

Photographs and False Memory: Did I really go for a hot air balloon ride?

November 11th, 2014 1 comment

Have you ever looked at a picture from when you were younger and had absolutely no memory of it? Or have you ever had a memory from when you were young that you’re not sure actually happened? If you answered yes to either of these questions, then you are completely normal and with this rest of us who sometimes have trouble recalling memories from our childhood and whether or not certain events actually took place. If these events never really happened, then why do we remember them?  Memories for things that did not actually happen are called false memories, more specifically implanted memories, and psychologist have been researching false memories for years. Many researchers looks at implanted memories, a phenomenon that refers to participants recalling specific details about “memories” that actually never took place. In implanted memory studies, researchers ask participants about specific events that took place during childhood, such as if they ever got lost at a park. Imagine being a participant in one of these studies. The first day that you come in, a researcher asks you about whether or not you ever got lost at the park when you were younger. You can’t remember ever being lost in the park, so you reply no. You continue to go in to see the researcher for multiple weeks, and every time the researcher asks you about being lost in the park when you were a kid. After a few weeks, you start to remember that actually, you were lost in the park when you were a kid and can remember specific details of being lost. This is how implanted memory studies take place, and by the end of a few weeks, researchers find that most participants start to recall specific details of events that never took place (Loftus & Pickrell, 1995). Crazy, isn’t it?

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Effects of Divided Attention on False Memories: Good News for Children, Not So for Adults

May 3rd, 2014 2 comments

Memory is an indispensable tool in our everyday lives, yet it is not perfect. Sometimes our own memory systems fail us, we remember things that we have never seen or recall events that have never happened. Such memories are called false memories, which have served as the topic of a large body of psychology research. Studies on false memories usually use the DRM paradigm (Desse, 1959; Roediger & McDermott, 1995). This paradigm requires participants to study lists of words that are related in meaning to each other and to a critical lure (CL) that do not appear in the lists. After that, participants take a memory test. Results show that people tend to remember or recall the CL as frequently as they do the studied words, and each time the CL is recalled is considered a false memory. Read more…

Suggestibility’s Strong Influence on Behavior

November 27th, 2013 7 comments

How reliable are your memories?  Before I took Cognitive Psych, I never considered this question.  In fact, I assumed that most of what I remembered was true, even things from my early childhood.  Now that I know about suggestibility, I have begun to second-guess what I know about many of my past experiences.  Suggestibility occurs when, without realizing it, we include information from others in our memories.  This can lead to changes in memories, and sometimes the creation of non- experienced, or “false” memories.

There are two basic types of suggestions.  A personalized suggestion is one that indicates that something may have happened specifically to you in the past.  General suggestions, on the other hand, suggest that something happened to many people in the past.  For example, a personalized suggestion could involve your grandmother saying, “you always used to wear those green overalls when you came to visit me,” while a generalized suggestion may involve reading a magazine article that says green overalls were very popular among children in the late 1990s.  Research has shown that personalized suggestions create false autobiographical memories, which can affect behavior.  Memories are very important in guiding our behavior.  For example, if you remember a negative event associated with a certain place, you are more likely to avoid that place in the future.  Generalized suggestions guide behavior as well, but not through false memories.  In this case, a person may hear that something happened to others in the past and adjust their behavior to avoid experiencing it.  For example, if you learned that many people got sick from eating raw cookie dough, you might avoid sampling the batter when making cookies so as not to get sick yourself.

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Exonerate the Innocent!

November 26th, 2013 6 comments

Many innocent people are wrongly convicted of crimes every year, and many of these wrongful convictions are due to a mistaken identification during eyewitness testimony. In many criminal investigations, eyewitness identification can be a deciding factor in the case. The Innocence Project (2012) has exonerated 289 people in the U.S. based on DNA evidence. About 75% of those wrongfully imprisoned were people mistakenly identified in a line-up. (To learn more about the Innocence Project, click here.) Surprisingly, recent data have shown that approximately a third of witnesses for line-ups are children younger than 16 years old. The data also show that about a third of these children under 16 are likely to make a false identification of an innocent person as the culprit. It goes without saying that there can be very serious and severe outcomes for people as a result of false identification. For these reasons, research on eyewitness testimony has become more important and prominent in recent times.  Read more…

The Worst Lies Involve Raccoons

November 26th, 2013 1 comment

“A good memory is needed once we have lied.”

– Pierre Corneille, Le Menteur

angry raccoonOne of the most memorable moments of my childhood was saving my friends and siblings from a rabies-ridden raccoon.  We were all playing a game of kickball in the local park, when a gargantuan raccoon approached us.  With a crazed look in its eyes, the raccoon prowled towards us like a lion stalking its prey.  I knew it was trouble, but before I could call for my parents, it began to charge us.  As my friends turned to run away, I ran towards it.  Like two warriors meeting on a battlefield, we raced headlong towards each other.  Mere feet away the raccoon lunged for me, its fangs bared, ready to bite. As my foe tried to close its teeth around my calf, with only milliseconds to spare, my foot shot out and I delivered a ferocious kick to the raccoon’s chest. It roared as it thumped to the ground.  Knowing it was no match for the stoic twelve-year old that I was, the raccoon raced away.  My friends all crowded around me and celebrated my stunning triumph over the savage beast.  I told that story to most of my friends at college, and few believed me.  I knew it was true, so I reached out to a couple of friends who were there to have them back me up.  What they said shocked me.

 

 

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Categories: Memory Tags: ,

How Safe Are Our Memories?

April 29th, 2013 No comments

We live in a world today that is constantly bombarding us with stimuli. Even a simple morning routine of getting to school or work shows how much information we have presented to us. Say we turn on the TV to look at traffic reports; we will see which celebrity is promoting his or her new film, which route to take and the new product we absolutely need to have. We have to make breakfast and get ourselves ready to leave. On the way there, we could run into advertisements on billboards and a new song we like on the radio. By the time we finally arrive, so much has been stored away in our memory. Yet how many times has it happened that we distinctly remembering hearing a specific song on the radio or which person was on the news that morning and someone else confidently tells us we are mistaken? How can we so strongly and vividly remember something when it did not happen at all?

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