MALLEABILITY OF HUMAN MEMORY

Considerable research has been done which indicates that new information about an experienced event may supplement and even alter the recollection of that event (e.g. subjects would be shown some pictures of an event and then asked questions about it, some of which were misleading by suggesting the existence of objects which had not actually appeared in the pictures). This article reviews the literature of this phenomenon and then describes experiments which tried to determine under what circumstances misleading information will be incorporated in recollections. If the person has a strong recollection of a given detail (either because of close attention or recent exposure to it), false information about it is less likely to be accepted. The opposite is true in the case of little attention to it or a long interval of time passing before the "new information" is presented. Not surprisingly, it is easier to get a witness to accept a detail that is plausible in its context than one that is not. Timing is also a factor. Misleading information introduced subsequent to an event has greater impact if it is introduced just prior to the test rather than immediately after the event.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society

    345 Whitney Avenue
    New Haven, CT  United States  06511
  • Authors:
    • Loftus, E F
  • Publication Date: 1979-5

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Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00195960
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 15 1979 12:00AM