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The Truth about False Memories

 

Narrator: This is Science Today. As many of us may have experienced, our memories are highly susceptible to distortion and suggestion. Elizabeth Loftus, a pioneer in false memory research and a psychologist at the University of California, Irvine has proven this to be the case.

Loftus: It turns out that we actually sometimes believe that thing happen to us or even have memories for things that never happened. And in the work that I do, I actually deliberately try to plant false beliefs for false memories into the minds of people so I can watch this process happen. So, we have gotten people to believe that they were lost in a shopping mall for an extended time, that they were frightened and crying and had to be rescued and reunited with the family. We've gotten people to believe that they broke a window and cut their hand; or that they met and shook hands with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland. All of these are things that didn't happen, and yet we can get people to remember that they did.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.