False Memories

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"False" Memory Is Common, Study Shows by Gerry Everding
Washington University |
People have difficulty suppressing false memories |
| | Even when you give people fair warning that you are about to trick them into recalling something that never happened, most will still fall prey to the deception, creating "illusory" or "false" memories that sometimes include vivid details, according to new research from Washington University in St. Louis. "Fully informing people and warning them about the possibility of illusory memories does not permit people to control their thought processes and avoid having them," said lead investigator Kathleen McDermott, Ph.D. "It's clear that people have difficulty suppressing false memories. The key questions now are how and when are these mistaken memories generated and can they be avoided." Published in the October 1998 issue of the Journal of Memory and Language, the study by psycologists McDermott and Henry L. "Roddy" Roediger III is another step forward in a recent spate of research aimed at unlocking the mysteries of human memory. It also sheds new light on the especially elusive enigmas of false memories. | A struggle to weave the remembered pieces of our past into a coherent narrative story |

| | Roediger, a leading authority on how the mind stores and retrieves knowledge, has spent nearly three decades studying the intricacies of human memory. He is perhaps best known for research on implicit memory, how past experience can be expressed in behavior without a person's intention or awareness; and on memory illusions, why people sometimes remember events quite differently from the way they happened, and in dramatic cases, how people can come to have vivid memories of events that never happened. "The idea that our memories hold a literal record of our past like a video recorder is wrong," said Roediger. "Rather, remembering is a constructive process and illusions of memory are the result of our struggle to weave...
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