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PSYC 325
Mario Liotti

Ch 8 Lec 6 False Memories - Memories that people have which do not correspond to events as they actually happened - They feel real – lies and made up stories don’t count - Could range from mistaken properties (blue car remembered as green), to completely made up events such as alien abductions - Famous Cases o Donald Thompson  Australian memory researcher, he was on a talk show with a chief of police discussing mistaken witness ID. When he got home he was arrested for murder because someone had seen him on the show and had mistakenly thought he was at a scene of a crime o John Demjanjuk  He was turned over to Israeli government by US for being “Ivan the Terrible” (Nazi). 5 Holocaust survivors positively identified him from 40 years ago. He was convicted and sentenced to death. Before the scheduled execution Russian government presented information that proved his innocence and so he was returned to US. Later he was sent to Germany for Nazi warcrimes, but point is he was not Ivan. o Susan Clancy  She is a writer who interviewed alien “abductees”  They believe it is real. She infers that the confabulations must arise when people experience sleep paralysis.(Wake up after REM but body still paralyzed) - Elizabeth Loftus o 1970s. introduced the misinformation effect paradigm.  Refers to false memories created by post-event misinformation.  Participants witness and event and then later receive false information about what occurred, and the false info is what they remember  Eyewitness memory is unreliable o She also turned to cases of “recovered” memories of childhood abuse, implying that they were sometimes the product of misleading therapeutic techniques and leading - Correspondence o Match between the retrieved memory and the actual event (True memory and false memory) o Very important in legal cases as opposed to accuracy and amount - Accuracy o Does memory report accurately reflect event? - Amount o How detailed is the memory? (doesn’t matter if details are erroneous) Causes of False Memory - Source Monitoring o The ability to distinguish between sources in memory. (What is the source of the memory, did you hear about the breakup from her or her friends, did you really score an OT goal or was it a dream? Do you remember your sibling being born or did you just hear stories?) o Very important to maintain True Memories o Occurrence:  Occurs unconsciously at retrieval  Most memories with lots of sensory details or emotional associations are judged to be real o Reality Monitoring  The ability to distinguish if memory is of a real or imagined source/event (implicated in false memories of childhood abuse and eyewitness memories) - Suggestibility o Tendency to incorporate post-event info or suggestions into memory of event Methods of Studying False Memories - Deese-Roediger-McDermott procedure (DRM) o A procedure used to induce false memories o Based on research of Roediger and McDermott (1995) o It is easy to conduct and provides no misinformation and so is a great way to induce false memories o Subjects are presented with a list of words all associated to a common word that is not on the list (eg. Bed, drowsy, rest, etc. all relating to “sleep”). Subject will recall “sleep”. Its presence is strongly implied. o The word sleep is called a Critical Intrusion  False memories created by a list in which all of the words are related or associated with the absent but suggested word o Two explanations for why false memories work in DRM method  Contextual Associations  All of the presented words are linked or associated to, in some way, the critical intrusion.  The surrounding words cause heavy activation of the word sleep, and the activation is then mistaken for episodic memory  When the list is small the critical intrusion is less likely recalled than if list is long  Pictures are more likely to induce a critical intrusion than words  Fuzzy-Trace theory  When items are encoded, they are not encoded literally but rather in terms of their meaning. Gist of the List o Limitations  it is argued that these kinds of false memories are not representative of real life false memories (eg. Abductions)  ecological validity issue. How do you go from false memories for words on a list to false memories of recovered memories of abuse - False Memory Induction Procedure o in response to DRM criticisms, Loftus, Coan, and Pickrell, 1996 o not involving abuse memory induction for ethical reasons o Recovered Memories Debate  Between cognitive psychology and psychotherapy (still Freudian)  Loftus and Davis describe several questionable psychotherapy procedures which the therapists argue produces true recovered memories almost all the time as opposed to being false memories  Hypnosis o Increases number of false memories without increasing accurate memories  Guided imagery o (imagine oneself in an abuse situation) o Also linked with false memories  writing in journals, trance writing  These procedures are a double edged sword, they may create distress in the person’s life, while also taking attention away from true root causes of problems o Ask participants about particular events from childhood which never happened o They insure participants that they have spoken to a parent or older sibling and received information about the event and want to see how much the individual can remember. In fact that family member is really contacted but just to make sure that such an event did not really take place o Events can include: spilling punch on a bride’s wedding dress as a child, hot air balloon ride on vacation, getting lost at the mall, near-drowning, animal attack o Almost everyone immediately denies event, but through repeated and leading questioning, many begin to remember details of event o Varies from 50% for ordinary memories (hot air balloon ride) to 0% (enema). o Individual differences: Visual Imagery and proneness to hypnosis facilitate FMs o Loftus and Pickrell, 1995  Recruited 24 parents to attempt to convince children that they had been lost in a mall as a child. Through repeated questioning and guided imagery, 25% began to remember such an event o Recovery of Repressed Memories  Similar to procedures described above. Therefore highly criticized. It is possible that subjects look to the authority of the psychotherapist, making it more likely that false memories are created o Heaps and Nash, 2010  Induced FM of childhood near drowning events, and others induced FM of vicious animal attacks. They succeeded with rates similar to previous less traumatic memories o Food  This procedure was used to “remind” people of the time they got sick eating egg salad, averting them from the food when they were presented with it. Similarly they convinced others that they enjoyed asparagus as children, and they showed a desire for it they didn’t have before  Could be used to turn people onto a healthy diet - Imagination Inflation o Researches induce false memories by simply having the participant imagine the event (eg. Hot air balloon ride)  Influences the rate at which they later report they have participated in such an event o Mazzoni and Memon  Asked participants to rate likelihood that each of several events had happened to them before the age of 6 (ranging from normal- finding money at back of taxi cab, to impossible- skin sample taken by school nurse)  One week later they returned and were asked to imagine either the plausible or the impossible event, and read a brief summary of the other event for a control  One week after they returned for a memory test, and were asked to judge whether various events had happened to them, including the plausible and impossible events using a scale of “no memory of event” to “vivid memory with details”  There was no attempt to convince the subjects that something had happened to them  More participants reported new details about their memory of the event than if they had not imagined it, and more people remember experiencing the impossible event than if they had not imagined it - Altered Evidence o In an experiment Nash, Wade, and Lindsay (2009) altered videos of participants interacting with experimenters and then showed the videotapes to participants o Two weeks later participants returned for a memory test. Those who had seen the doctored tapes had far more FM than those who did not. The effect was furthered when they were asked to imagine the false events. o Thus, fabricated visual evidence can induce FM - Hypnosis and Memory o Increase in memories produced by hypnosis but is dominated by false memories o They are useful in medical conditions (eg. Pain tolerance) - Recovered Memories: Repression o Repression  The act of forgetting highly emotional memories, usually from childhood, likely related to a trauma o Loftus – no such thing as recovered memories. All false. o General consensus is that they exist, but many are FM o In landmark study Williams (1995) tracked down 129 women who had been abused as children and admitted to a hospital (so we know not FM). He found that 12% did not remember the abuse. And 16% reported that at some point they had forgotten their abuse and remembered it by some cue at some point.  Therefore it is possible to forget, and to recover traumatic memories  some skepticism about the true episodic nature of the memories, and the idea that they may have been reconstructed o Real Recovered Memories vs False  Data suggests memories gradually recovered during suggestive therapy tend to be more vague, less emotional, and have fewer sensory detailed. Features shared by false memories  Spontaneous sudden memories are more likely to be correlated with history of abuse, and are more likely to be emotionally charged and have more sensory details  Thus a true recovered memory seems to be more likely to be brought on spontaneously rather than by slow leading nature of a therapist’s inquiry o In psychoanalysis it is important to find repressed memories and be aware of childhood trauma, causing probing around for such hidden causes. In more modern clinical psychology though, the therapist will likely not want the patient to become aware of such a problem as that will likely have more positive effects than the stress of becoming aware  Either way, knowing the mechanism is important for both schools of psych - Mechanisms of Repression and Recovery o Usually emotional and distinctive events are NOT forgotten, so what are mechanisms for repression? o Failure-to-rehearse  Because they are high
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