False Memories: Memories that Never Occurred

Topics: Seven deadly sins, Misinformation effect, Explanation Pages: 2 (748 words) Published: May 31, 2014
"Memory works like a Wikipedia page. You can change it, but so can other people." said Elizabeth Loftus when talking about her research in false memories. That is one of the reasons why memory fails us; suggestibility which is the lingering effects of misinformation, is the explanation of why people are able to alter your memories and make you “remember” something that never happened. Along with absent-mindedness, transience, blocking, misattribution, bias, and persistence, they make up the seven sins of memory which explain why people often, distort, change or even make up memories that never occurred.

In one study, it was found that 300 people were falsely convicted of a crime. Out of those 300, 75% of the false accusations were due to faulty memories. Sometimes the way a question is asked can shape the way you reply. In one of Loftus’ experiments, people were shown a simulation of a minor car crash. Some people were asked “About how fast were the cars going when they hit each other?”, while others were asked the same thing, except “hit” was exchanged with “smashed”. The people who were asked the question with the word smashed were more likely to say the cars were going faster. Not only that, but they went as far as “remembering” broken glass in the scene, when there was none. This misinformation effect, the act of incorporating misleading information into one’s memory of an event, is one explanation of why memory fails us.

The act of forgetting is one of the reason we tend to have a failed memory. Absent-mindedness,is another reason for a failing memory. This happens when we simply are not aware of our surroundings because of something as simple as not paying attention which does not allow our brain to encode,the processing of information into the memory system, information as simple as where we placed our car keys. Transience, storage decay over time, explains why we forget certain information that we haven’t used in a long time, such as remembering the...
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