Discussion board #8Read the attached article laneyloftus2014.pdfthen respond to the question below on this Discussion Board.Imagine that you are a juror in a murder case where an eyewitness testifies. In what ways might your knowledge of memory errors affect your use of this testimony? Use examples from the attached article to support your response.Discussion board #8
Read the attached article laneyloftus2014.pdf
then respond to the question below on this Discussion Board.
Imagine that you are a juror in a murder case where an eyewitness testifies. In what
ways might your knowledge of memory errors affect your use of this testimony?
Use examples from the attached article to support your response.
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory
Cara Laney & Elizabeth F. Loftus
Eyewitnesses can provide very compelling legal testimony, but rather than recording
experiences flawlessly, their memories are susceptible to a variety of errors and biases. They
(like the rest of us) can make errors in remembering specific details and can even remember
whole events that did not actually happen. In this module, we discuss several of the common
types of errors, and what they can tell us about human memory and its interactions with the
legal system.
What Is Eyewitness Testimony?
Eyewitness testimony is what happens when a person witnesses a crime (or accident, or other
legally important event) and later gets up on the stand and recalls for the court all the details
of the witnessed event. It involves a more complicated process than might initially be
presumed. It includes what happens during the actual crime to facilitate or hamper witnessing,
as well as everything that happens from the time the event is over to the later courtroom
appearance. The eyewitness may be interviewed by the police and numerous lawyers, describe
the perpetrator to several different people, and make an identification of the perpetrator,
among other things.
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
What can happen to our memory from the time we witness an event to the retelling
of that event later? What can influence how we remember, or misremember, highly
significant events like a crime or accident? [Image: Robert Couse-Baker, https://goo.
gl/OiPUmz, CC BY 2.0, https://goo.gl/BRvSA7]
Why Is Eyewitness Testimony an Important Area of Psychological
When an eyewitness stands up in front of the court and describes what happened from her
own perspective, this testimony can be extremely compelling—it is hard for those hearing
this testimony to take it “with a grain of salt,” or otherwise adjust its power. But to what extent
is this necessary?
There is now a wealth of evidence, from research conducted over several decades, suggesting
that eyewitness testimony is probably the most persuasive form of evidence presented in
court, but in many cases, its accuracy is dubious. There is also evidence that mistaken
eyewitness evidence can lead to wrongful conviction—sending people to prison for years or
decades, even to death row, for crimes they did not commit. Faulty eyewitness testimony has
been implicated in at least 75% of DNA exoneration cases—more than any other cause
(Garrett, 2011). In a particularly famous case, a man named Ronald Cotton was identified by
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
a rape victim, Jennifer Thompson, as her rapist, and was found guilty and sentenced to life in
prison. After more than 10 years, he was exonerated (and the real rapist identified) based on
DNA evidence. For details on this case and other (relatively) lucky individuals whose false
convictions were subsequently overturned with DNA evidence, see the Innocence Project
website (http://www.innocenceproject.org/).
There is also hope, though, that many of the errors may be avoidable if proper precautions
are taken during the investigative and judicial processes. Psychological science has taught us
what some of those precautions might involve, and we discuss some of that science now.
In an early study of eyewitness memory, undergraduate
subjects first watched a slideshow depicting a small red car
driving and then hitting a pedestrian (Loftus, Miller, & Burns,
1978). Some subjects were then asked leading questions
about what had happened in the slides. For example,
subjects were asked, “How fast was the car traveling when
it passed the yield sign?” But this question was actually
designed to be misleading, because the original slide
included a stop sign rather than a yield sign.
Later, subjects were shown pairs of slides. One of the pair
was the original slide containing the stop sign; the other
was a replacement slide containing a yield sign. Subjects
were asked which of the pair they had previously seen.
Subjects who had been asked about the yield sign were
likely to pick the slide showing the yield sign, even though
they had originally seen the slide with the stop sign. In other
Misinformation can be introduced into
words, the misinformation in the leading question led to
the memory of a witness between the
inaccurate memory.
time of seeing an event and reporting it
later. Something as straightforward as
which sort of traffic sign was in place at
an intersection can be confused if
This phenomenon is called the misinformation effect,
because the misinformation that subjects were exposed to
subjects are exposed to erroneous
after the event (here in the form of a misleading question)
information after the initial incident.
apparently contaminates subjects’ memories of what they
witnessed. Hundreds of subsequent studies have
demonstrated that memory can be contaminated by erroneous information that people are
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
exposed to after they witness an event (see Frenda, Nichols, & Loftus, 2011; Loftus, 2005). The
misinformation in these studies has led people to incorrectly remember everything from small
but crucial details of a perpetrator’s appearance to objects as large as a barn that wasn’t there
at all.
These studies have demonstrated that young adults (the typical research subjects in
psychology) are often susceptible to misinformation, but that children and older adults can
be even more susceptible (Bartlett & Memon, 2007; Ceci & Bruck, 1995). In addition,
misinformation effects can occur easily, and without any intention to deceive (Allan & Gabbert,
2008). Even slight differences in the wording of a question can lead to misinformation effects.
Subjects in one study were more likely to say yes when asked “Did you see the broken
headlight?” than when asked “Did you see a broken headlight?” (Loftus, 1975).
Other studies have shown that misinformation can corrupt memory even more easily when
it is encountered in social situations (Gabbert, Memon, Allan, & Wright, 2004). This is a problem
particularly in cases where more than one person witnesses a crime. In these cases, witnesses
tend to talk to one another in the immediate aftermath of the crime, including as they wait
for police to arrive. But because different witnesses are different people with different
perspectives, they are likely to see or notice different things, and thus remember different
things, even when they witness the same event. So when they communicate about the crime
later, they not only reinforce common memories for the event, they also contaminate each
other’s memories for the event (Gabbert, Memon, & Allan, 2003; Paterson & Kemp, 2006;
Takarangi, Parker, & Garry, 2006).
The misinformation effect has been modeled in the laboratory. Researchers had subjects
watch a video in pairs. Both subjects sat in front of the same screen, but because they wore
differently polarized glasses, they saw two different versions of a video, projected onto a
screen. So, although they were both watching the same screen, and believed (quite reasonably)
that they were watching the same video, they were actually watching two different versions
of the video (Garry, French, Kinzett, & Mori, 2008).
In the video, Eric the electrician is seen wandering through an unoccupied house and helping
himself to the contents thereof. A total of eight details were different between the two videos.
After watching the videos, the “co-witnesses” worked together on 12 memory test questions.
Four of these questions dealt with details that were different in the two versions of the video,
so subjects had the chance to influence one another. Then subjects worked individually on
20 additional memory test questions. Eight of these were for details that were different in the
two videos. Subjects’ accuracy was highly dependent on whether they had discussed the
details previously. Their accuracy for items they had not previously discussed with their co-
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
witness was 79%. But for items that they had discussed, their accuracy dropped markedly, to
34%. That is, subjects allowed their co-witnesses to corrupt their memories for what they had
Identifying Perpetrators
In addition to correctly remembering many details of the crimes they witness, eyewitnesses
often need to remember the faces and other identifying features of the perpetrators of those
crimes. Eyewitnesses are often asked to describe that perpetrator to law enforcement and
later to make identifications from books of mug shots or lineups. Here, too, there is a
substantial body of research demonstrating that eyewitnesses can make serious, but often
understandable and even predictable, errors (Caputo & Dunning, 2007; Cutler & Penrod, 1995).
In most jurisdictions in the United States, lineups are typically conducted with pictures, called
photo spreads, rather than with actual people standing behind one-way glass (Wells, Memon,
& Penrod, 2006). The eyewitness is given a set of small pictures of perhaps six or eight
individuals who are dressed similarly and photographed in similar circumstances. One of
these individuals is the police suspect, and the remainder are “foils” or “fillers” (people known
to be innocent of the particular crime under investigation). If the eyewitness identifies the
suspect, then the investigation of that
suspect is likely to progress. If a witness
identifies a foil or no one, then the police
may choose to move their investigation in
another direction.
This process is modeled in laboratory
studies of eyewitness identifications. In
these studies, research subjects witness a
mock crime (often as a short video) and
then are asked to make an identification
from a photo or a live lineup. Sometimes
the lineups are target present, meaning
that the perpetrator from the mock crime
is actually in the lineup, and sometimes
Mistakes in identifying perpetrators can be influenced by a
number of factors including poor viewing conditions, too little
they are target absent, meaning that the
lineup is made up entirely of foils. The
time to view the perpetrator, or too much delay from time of
subjects, or mock witnesses, are given
witnessing to identification.
some instructions and asked to pick the
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
perpetrator out of the lineup. The particular details of the witnessing experience, the
instructions, and the lineup members can all influence the extent to which the mock witness
is likely to pick the perpetrator out of the lineup, or indeed to make any selection at all. Mock
witnesses (and indeed real witnesses) can make errors in two different ways. They can fail to
pick the perpetrator out of a target present lineup (by picking a foil or by neglecting to make
a selection), or they can pick a foil in a target absent lineup (wherein the only correct choice
is to not make a selection).
Some factors have been shown to make eyewitness identification errors particularly likely.
These include poor vision or viewing conditions during the crime, particularly stressful
witnessing experiences, too little time to view the perpetrator or perpetrators, too much delay
between witnessing and identifying, and being asked to identify a perpetrator from a race
other than one’s own (Bornstein, Deffenbacher, Penrod, & McGorty, 2012; Brigham, Bennett,
Meissner, & Mitchell, 2007; Burton, Wilson, Cowan, & Bruce, 1999; Deffenbacher, Bornstein,
Penrod, & McGorty, 2004).
It is hard for the legal system to do much about most of these problems. But there are some
things that the justice system can do to help lineup identifications “go right.” For example,
investigators can put together high-quality, fair lineups. A fair lineup is one in which the suspect
and each of the foils is equally likely to be chosen by someone who has read an eyewitness
description of the perpetrator but who did not actually witness the crime (Brigham, Ready, &
Spier, 1990). This means that no one in the lineup should “stick out,” and that everyone should
match the description given by the eyewitness. Other important recommendations that have
come out of this research include better ways to conduct lineups, “double blind” lineups,
unbiased instructions for witnesses, and conducting lineups in a sequential fashion (see
Technical Working Group for Eyewitness Evidence, 1999; Wells et al., 1998; Wells & Olson,
Kinds of Memory Biases
Memory is also susceptible to a wide variety of other biases and errors. People can forget
events that happened to them and people they once knew. They can mix up details across
time and place. They can even remember whole complex events that never happened at all.
Importantly, these errors, once made, can be very hard to unmake. A memory is no less
“memorable” just because it is wrong.
Some small memory errors are commonplace, and you have no doubt experienced many of
them. You set down your keys without paying attention, and then cannot find them later when
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
you go to look for them. You try to come up
with a person’s name but cannot find it,
even though you have the sense that it is
(psychologists actually call this the tip-ofthe-tongue effect, or TOT) (Brown, 1991).
Other sorts of memory biases are more
complicated and longer lasting. For
example, it turns out that our expectations
and beliefs about how the world works can
have huge influences on our memories.
Because many aspects of our everyday lives
are full of redundancies, our memory
systems take advantage of the recurring
For most of our experiences schematas are a benefit and help
patterns by forming and using schemata,
with information overload. However, they may make it difficult
or memory templates (Alba & Hasher,
1983; Brewer & Treyens, 1981). Thus, we
know to expect that a library will have
shelves and tables and librarians, and so
or impossible to recall certain details of a situation later. Do you
recall the library as it actually was or the library as approximated
by your library schemata? [Dan Kleinman, https://goo.
gl/07xyDD, CC BY 2.0, https://goo.gl/BRvSA7]
we don’t have to spend energy noticing these at the time. The result of this lack of attention,
however, is that one is likely to remember schema-consistent information (such as tables),
and to remember them in a rather generic way, whether or not they were actually present.
False Memory
Some memory errors are so “large” that they almost belong in a class of their own: false
memories. Back in the early 1990s a pattern emerged whereby people would go into therapy
for depression and other everyday problems, but over the course of the therapy develop
memories for violent and horrible victimhood (Loftus & Ketcham, 1994). These patients’
therapists claimed that the patients were recovering genuine memories of real childhood
abuse, buried deep in their minds for years or even decades. But some experimental
psychologists believed that the memories were instead likely to be false—created in therapy.
These researchers then set out to see whether it would indeed be possible for wholly false
memories to be created by procedures similar to those used in these patients’ therapy.
In early false memory studies, undergraduate subjects’ family members were recruited to
provide events from the students’ lives. The student subjects were told that the researchers
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
had talked to their family members and learned about four different events from their
childhoods. The researchers asked if the now undergraduate students remembered each of
these four events—introduced via short hints. The subjects were asked to write about each
of the four events in a booklet and then were interviewed two separate times. The trick was
that one of the events came from the researchers rather than the family (and the family had
actually assured the researchers that this event had not happened to the subject). In the first
such study, this researcher-introduced event was a story about being lost in a shopping mall
and rescued by an older adult. In this study, after just being asked whether they remembered
these events occurring on three separate occasions, a quarter of subjects came to believe
that they had indeed been lost in the mall (Loftus & Pickrell, 1995). In subsequent studies,
similar procedures were used to get subjects to believe that they nearly drowned and had
been rescued by a lifeguard, or that they had spilled punch on the bride’s parents at a family
wedding, or that they had been attacked by a vicious animal as a child, among other events
(Heaps & Nash, 1999; Hyman, Husband, & Billings, 1995; Porter, Yuille, & Lehman, 1999).
More recent false memory studies have used a variety of different manipulations to produce
false memories in substantial minorities and even occasional majorities of manipulated
subjects (Braun, Ellis, & Loftus, 2002; Lindsay, Hagen, Read, Wade, & Garry, 2004; Mazzoni,
Loftus, Seitz, & Lynn, 1999; Seamon, Philbin, & Harrison, 2006; Wade, Garry, Read, & Lindsay,
2002). For example, one group of researchers used a mock-advertising study, wherein subjects
were asked to review (fake) advertisements for Disney vacations, to convince subjects that
they had once met the character Bugs Bunny at Disneyland—an impossible false memory
because Bugs is a Warner Brothers character (Braun et al., 2002). Another group of researchers
photoshopped childhood photographs of their subjects into a hot air balloon picture and then
asked the subjects to try to remember and describe their hot air balloon experience (Wade
et al., 2002). Other researchers gave subjects unmanipulated class photographs from their
childhoods along with a fake story about a class prank, and thus enhanced the likelihood that
subjects would falsely remember the prank (Lindsay et al., 2004).
Using a false feedback manipulation, we have been able to persuade subjects to falsely
remember having a variety of childhood experiences. In these studies, subjects are told
(falsely) that a powerful computer system has analyzed questionnaires that they completed
previously and has concluded that they had a particular experience years earlier. Subjects
apparently believe what the computer says about them and adjust their memories to match
this new information. A variety of different false memories have been implanted in this way.
In some studies, subjects are told they once got sick on a particular food (Bernstein, Laney,
Morris, & Loftus, 2005). These memories can then spill out into other aspects of subjects’ lives,
such that they often become less interested in eating that food in the future (Bernstein &
Loftus, 2009b). Other false memories implanted with this methodology include having an
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
unpleasant experience with the character Pluto at Disneyland and witnessing physical violence
between one’s parents (Berkowitz, Laney, Morris, Garry, & Loftus, 2008; Laney & Loftus, 2008).
Importantly, once these false memories are implanted—whether through complex methods
or simple ones—it is extremely difficult to tell them apart from true memories (Bernstein &
Loftus, 2009a; Laney & Loftus, 2008).
To conclude, eyewitness testimony is very powerful and convincing to jurors, even though it
is not particularly reliable. Identification errors occur, and these errors can lead to people
being falsely accused and even convicted. Likewise, eyewitness memory can be corrupted by
leading questions, misinterpretations of events, conversations with co-witnesses, and their
own expectations for what should have happened. People can even come to remember whole
events that never occurred.
The problems with memory in the legal system are real. But what can we do to start to fix
them? A number of specific recommendations have already been made, and many of these
are in the process of being implemented (e.g., Steblay & Loftus, 2012; Technical Working Group
for Eyewitness Evidence, 1999; Wells et al., 1998). Some of these recommendations are aimed
at specific legal procedures, including when and how witnesses should be interviewed, and
how lineups should be constructed and conducted. Other recommendations call for
appropriate education (often in the form of expert witness testimony) to be provided to jury
members and others tasked with assessing eyewitness memory. Eyewitness testimony can
be of great value to the legal system, but decades of research now argues that this testimony
is often given far more weight than its accuracy justifies.
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
False memories
Memory for an event that never actually occurred, implanted by experimental manipulation
or other means.
Any member of a lineup (whether live or photograph) other than the suspect.
Misinformation effect
A memory error caused by exposure to incorrect information between the original event (e.
g., a crime) and later memory test (e.g., an interview, lineup, or day in court).
Mock witnesses
A research subject who plays the part of a witness in a study.
Photo spreads
A selection of normally small photographs of faces given to a witness for the purpose of
identifying a perpetrator.
Schema (plural: schemata)
A memory template, created through repeated exposure to a particular class of objects or
Eyewitness Testimony and Memory Biases
Alba, J. W., & Hasher, L. (1983). Is memory schematic? Psychological Bulletin, 93, 203–231.
Berkowitz, S. R., Laney, C., Morris, E. K., Garry, M., & Loftus, E. F. (2008). Pluto behaving badly:
False beliefs and their consequences. American Journal of Psychology, 121, 643–660
Bernstein, D. M., & Loftus, E. F. (2009b). The consequences of false memories for food
preferences and choices. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 135–139.
Bernstein, D. M., & Loftus, E. F., (2009a). How to tell if a particular memory is true or false.
Perspectives on Psychological Science, 4, 370–374.
Bernstein, D. M., Laney, C., Morris, E. K., & Loftus, E. F. (2005). False memories about food can
lead to food avoidance. Social Cognition, 23, 11–34.
Bornstein, B. H., Deffenbacher, K. A., Penrod, S. D., & McGorty, E. K. (2012). Effects of exposure
time and cognitive operations on facial identification accuracy: A meta-analysis of two
variables associated with initial memory strength. Psychology, Crime, & Law, 18, 473–490.
Braun, K. A., Ellis, R., & Loftus, E. F. (2002). Make my memory: How advertising can change our
memories of the past. Psychology and Marketing, 19, 1–23.
Brewer, W. F., & Treyens, J. C. (1981). Role of schemata in memory for places. Cognitive
Psychology, 13, 207–230.
Brigham, J. C., Bennett, L. B., Meissner, C. A., & Mitchell, T. L. (2007). The influence of race on
eyewitness memory. In R. C. L. Lindsay, D. F. Ross, J. D. Read, & M. P.Toglia (Eds.), Handbook
of eyewitness psychology, Vol. 2: Memory for people (pp. 257–281). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Brown, A. S. (1991). A review of tip of the tongue experience. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 79–91.
Deffenbacher, K. A., Bornstein, B. H., Penrod, S. D., & McGorty, E. K. (2004). A meta-analytic
review of the effects of high stress on eyewitness memory. Law and Human Behavior, 28,
Garrett, B. L. (2011). Convicting the innocent. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Heaps, C., & Nash, M. (1999). Individual differences in imagination inflation. Psychonomic
Bulletin and Review, 6, 313–138.
Hyman, I. E., Jr., Husband, T. H., & Billings, F. J. (1995). False memories of childhood experiences.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, 9, 181–197.
Laney, C., & Loftus, E. F. (2008). Emotional content of true and false memories. Memory, 16,
Lindsay, D. S., Hagen, L., Read, J. D., Wade, K. A., & Garry, M. (2004). True photographs and
false memories. Psychological Science, 15, 149–154.
Loftus, E. F., & Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The formation of false memories. Psychiatric Annals, 25,
Loftus, E. F., Ketcham, K. (1994). The myth of repressed memory. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.
Mazzoni, G. A. L., Loftus, E. F., Seitz, A., & Lynn, S.J. (1999). Changing beliefs and memories
through dream interpretation. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13, 125–144.
Porter, S., Yuille, J. C., & Lehman, D. R. (1999). The nature of real, implanted, and fabricated
memories for emotional childhood events: Implications for the recovered memory debate.
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Seamon, J. G., Philbin, M. M., & Harrison, L. G. (2006). Do you remember proposing marriage
to the Pepsi machine? False recollections from a campus walk. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review,
13, 752–7596.
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(Ed.), The behavioural foundations of public policy (pp. 145–162). Princeton, NJ: Princeton
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R. Biswas-Diener & E. Diener (Eds), Noba Textbook Series: Psychology. Champaign, IL: DEF
Publishers. DOI: nobaproject.com
Copyright © 2016 by Diener Education Fund. This material is licensed under the Creative
Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy
of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/deed.en_US.
How to cite a Noba chapter using APA Style
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Rubric for Discussion Boards
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Week #8
Geri Lavrov / Photographer’s Choice / Getty Images
Retrieval: Getting Information Out
Memory Construction Errors
Improving Memory
Retrieval: Getting Information Out
Measuring retention
Retrieval cues
Retrieval: Getting Information Out
Three types of evidence indicate memory
The more times
Ebbinghaus practiced a
list of nonsense
syllables on day 1, the
less practice he needed
to relearn it on day 2
Speed of relearning is
one way to measure
whether something was
learned and retained
(From Baddeley, 1982.)
Multiple-choice questions test our
c. relearning.
d. sensory memory.
Fill-in-the blank questions test our ________.
If you want to be sure to remember what you’re learning for
an upcoming test, would it be better to use recall or
recognition to check your memory? Why?
Retrieval: Getting Information Out
Memory retrieval
Memories are held in storage by a web of
Retrieval cues serve as anchor points for pathways to
memories suspended in this web
Activation, often unconsciously, of particular
associations in memory
Retrieval Cues
After seeing or hearing
rabbit, we are later more
likely to spell the spoken
word as h-a-r-e
Associations unconsciously
activate related associations
This process is called
priming (Adapted from
Bower, 1986.)
Retrieval Cues
Context effects
Priming memory is often helped by returning to the
context of the experience
State-dependent memory
There is a tendency to recall events consistent with
current good or bad mood (mood-congruent memory)
Alexis Rosenfeld / Science Source
The Effects of Context on Memory
Words heard underwater were best recalled underwater; words
heard on land were best recalled on land. (Adapted from Godden
& Baddeley, 1975.)
Retrieval Cues
Serial position effect
There is a tendency to recall best the last and first
items in a list
Forgetting and the
Two-track Mind
John Gibbins/ZUMApress/Newscom
Humans have two distinct
memory systems, controlled
by different parts of the brain
Annese and of California are preserving
Henry Molaison’s brain for the benefit of
future generations. Their careful work will
result in a freely available online
brain atlas.
Forgetting has several
Encoding failure
Storage decay
Retrieval failure
Motivated forgetting
Let’s look more closely at these
Forgetting: Encoding and Storage Decay
Encoding failure
Age: Encoding lag is linked to age-related memory
Attention: Failure to notice or encode contributes to
memory failure
Storage decay
Course of forgetting is initially rapid, and then levels
off with time
Physical change in the brain occur as memory forms
(memory trace)
We cannot remember what we have not encoded.
Forgetting: Retrieval Failure
Reason for failure
Events and memories are not available because they
were never acquired
Memories have been discarded due to stored
memory decay
Insufficient information to access memories make
these out of reach
Reason for failure
• Events and memories are not available because they
were never acquired
• Memories have been discarded due to stored memory
• Insufficient information to access memories make
these out of reach
Proactive: Occurs when older memory makes it more
difficult to remember new information
Retroactive: Occurs when new learning disrupts
memory for older information
People forgot more when they
stayed awake and experienced
other new material. (From
Jenkins & Dallenbach, 1924.)
Motivated forgetting
Freud: Repressed memories protect self-concept and
minimize anxiety
Today: Attempts to forget are more likely when
information is neutral, not emotional
• Forgetting can occur at any
memory stage
• As we process information,
we filter, alter, or lose
much of it
What are three ways we forget, and how does
each of these happen?
Memory Construction Errors
Misinformation and imagination effects
Source amnesia
Recognizing false memories
Children’s eyewitness recall
Repressed or constructed memories of abuse?
Memory Construction Errors
Memory is not exact
Proactive interference: Disruptive effect of
prior learning on the recall of new information
Retroactive interference: Disruptive effect of
new learning on the recall of old information
7-17 How do misinformation, imagination, and source amnesia influence our
memory construction? How do we decide whether a memory is real or false?
Memory Construction Errors
Misinformation and imagination effects
Misinformation effect occurs when a memory has
been corrupted by misleading information
Imagination effect occurs when repeatedly imaging
fake actions and events can create false memories
In this experiment, people viewed a film of a car accident
(left). Those who later were asked a leading question recalled a
more serious accident than they had witnessed. (From Loftus, 1979.)
Memory Construction Errors
Source amnesia
Involves faulty memory for how, when, or where
information was learned or imagined
Déjà vu
Sense that “I’ve experienced this before.”
Suggests cues from the current situation may
unconsciously trigger retrieval of an earlier
Repressed or Constructed Memories of
Challenges related to adult recognition of
childhood abuse:
People do not believe abuse survivors
Innocent people are falsely accused
Recognizing False Memories
Children’s eyewitness recall
Ceci and Bruck
Researchers studied the effect of suggestive interviewing
58 percent of preschoolers produced false stories about one
or more unexperienced events
Children often accurately recall events and actors
Neutral person
Nonleading questions soon after event containing words
children can understand
Repressed or Constructed Memories of
Those committed to protecting abused children and
those committed to protecting wrongly accused
adults have agreed on the following:
Sexual abuse happens
Injustice happens
Forgetting happens
Recovered memories are commonplace
Memories of things happening before age 3 are unreliable
Memories “recovered” under hypnosis are especially
Memories, whether real or false, can be emotionally
Improving Memory
What do you do to improve your memory
and increase your success in this course?
End of week #8 lecture
Have a great week!

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