The Memory Project "What's the Matter With Memory?"

A Lecture by Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine New studies show the power of imagination and suggestion to make people believe that they have had experiences that they didn't have. People have been led to remember non-existent events from the recent past as well as non-existent events from their childhood. They can be led to falsely believe that they have had familiar experiences, but also rather bizarre or implausible ones (e.g., that they witnessed demonic possession as a child). They can be led to believe that they did things that would have been impossible (e.g., that they shook hands with Bugs Bunny during a trip to Disneyland). They can also be led to falsely believe that they had experiences that would have been highly traumatic had they actually happened. Moreover, false beliefs and memories can have long-range consequences; they can affect later thoughts and behaviors. These findings reveal much about the flimsy curtain that separates true memory from false.

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