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Loftus and Pickrell (1995)
Transcript of Loftus and Pickrell (1995)
Loftus and Pickrell (1995)
The formation of false memories
What is false memory?
-False memories happen when post-event information changes the original memory so a person believes that the false information really was part of the original event even though it never existed.
To understand how we are manipulated by the revised
data given about a “witnessed” event.
To discover whether it is possible to implant
an entire false memory for an event that never
There are 3 males and 21 females between
the age of 18 to 53.
Each 24 participants had a relative.
Relatives are needed to be knowledgeable
on the subject about the participants childhood.
The sampling technique is an opportunity sample
The participants were given a booklet which consist of 5 pages.
The booklet contained instructions and 4 short events which the relatives had described about the childhood.
3 were real (childhood events), 1 were false (lost in the shopping mall).
The three stages:
1) Booklet completion
2) Interview 1
3) Interview 2
1) Percentage of participants recalling true
and false events at all three stages
2) Clarity ratings. 1 (UNCLEAR) to 10 (EXTREMELY CLEAR)
3) Confidence ratings. 1 (NO CONFINDENCE) to 5 (EXTREMELY CONFIDENT)
Interview with relatives to obtain 3 true stories about the participant that happened between age of 4 and 6.
Relatives were asked about the participants shopping trip to the mall at the age of 5.
Participants were told they were participating in a study about childhood memories and why we can remember some and not others.
Told to read the booklet which contained three real memories and one fake from childhood
If they don’t remember an event, they would write “I do not remember this.”
The participants were asked to
mail the booklet back.
One-two weeks later the participants were interviewed either over the phone or at the university.
The participants were asked to recall as many details from these childhood events as possible.
Asked to rate their clarity on a scale out of 10 and rate their confidence they could recall if more time were given on a scale out of 5.
49/72 true events were remembered
Out of 24 participants, 7 claimed they remembered the false event. In later interviews, only 6 said they remembered them.
Participants use more words to describe true memories (mean of 138) than false memories (mean of 49.9)
17 participants said they had no recollection being lost in a mall.
5 participants have a higher confidence ratings
for true memories than the ratings for false memories.
19/24 participants were able to identify
the mall memory as the false memory.
The study provides an existence proof for the phenomenon of false memory formation.
False memory formation occurred in this study because it was made believable as the elements are mostly common to most peoples’ lives.
Quantitative & Qualitative Data
Retroactive interference might occur due to the participants’ nurture as they may get influenced by the environment and experiences
A lot of control
- False memory event is always on the third
page of the booklet
- Booklet contained the same content
True events comes from the participant’s relative.
It has both Qualitative and Quantitative data.
Infantile amnesia (The forgetting of childhood memories)
Could psychologically harm someone
Some interviews were done over telephone and told to write details of each memory in each event
Ethical issues raised
- Due to the standardized procedure.
Can be argued to be inconsistent. (Only conducted once).
- Limited number of participants.
- Biased to only people aged 18-53 years old.
- Biased to only choose the subject’s relative.
Quantitative and Qualitative Data
Subjects wrote the content of the events in the booklet given
Subjects and their relative were interviewed
- Participants thought they were taking part in a study to find out, ‘ the kinds of things that can be remembered from your childhood.’
- Psychological issue arose due to the making the participants believe in a memory that did not actually happen.
Invasion of privacy
- Interviewed true past events.
- Participants were debriefed after the procedures are done and told the real aim of the study afterwards.
Naim, Ruqaiyah, Syafiqah, Hazimah