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Planting misinformation in the human mind

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Brody Jackson

on 30 September 2016

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Transcript of Planting misinformation in the human mind

It relatively easy for the scientists so convince their test subjects of misinformation for some things.
For most people, it was easier to convince them that something happened that didn’t when they’d had time to let the memory fade.
Age also played a major factor. Younger children are more susceptible than older children and older people are more susceptible than younger adults.
The more one has self-reported lapses in memory and attention, the easier it is for them to be susceptible to misinformation.

Looking at the results of doing this with infants, gorillas and pigeons: misinformation affected non-verbal creatures too. They weren’t affected by wanting to give an answer to please the experimenter, they were truly affected by the planting of misinformation.

Even though planting rich false memories is very possible, it takes a lot more work and time. Changing details in a story that actually did happen is much more likely to be immediately believed than a completely false memory.

-Okado and Stark
Misinformation effects have also been tested using nonverbal subjects. EX)
Rovee-collier et al. 1993 (infants)
Schwartz et al. 2004 (Gorrillas)
Harper and Garry 2000 (pigeons and rats)
Used entirely visual tests, based on colored light beams.
they were trained that one color meant one thing, then thried using a new color, then both at once. If the subject picked the original color they were rewarded with food.
Planting misinformation in the human mind
By: Brody Jackson
Guillermo Quinones
Jeannette Mckenzie
Caroline Bennett
Elizabeth F. Loftus
Why This matters:
People need to be aware of how easy it is for misinformation to be planted in our mind, especially if we are not attentive to details.
Witnesses to a major event can start to believe misinformation after seeing the news coverage saying something else. This misinformation can contaminate the memory. With their memory being distorted they can spread this information which leads to what really happened not being known or reported.

The fact that false memories can be planted into people’s minds is very concerning. The government could change a part of a story to manipulate people, and even if they saw the real event, very easily the government could make them think they saw something else. It’s very likely that this happens, especially in countries that are very concerned about what is broadcasted to the public. People need to know that it’s possible for them to do that.
What’s also concerning is how completely false memories can be planted into one’s mind. Although it’s harder, it’s completely possible. Our minds are so complex and work so much every day that sometimes things get distorted or mixed up. The more we are aware of this, the better we can be alert for misinformation being spread.
For hundreds or even thousands of years memory has been thought to be definitive proof that something happened. It was not until recently that psychology has begun to find that not only is not as trustworthy as it used to be, but that it also could be possible to even plant memories into other peoples brain. For the past 40 years scientists have been conducting research on the science of memory itself, and more specifically tests on whether it is possible to fabricate and plant false memories into other peoples heads.
Scientists did a series of small tests trying to see exactly how much misinformation they can
These investigations were completed over a span of 30 years separately before being compared by Loftus
Subjects first saw several complicated events. EX) man stealing a girls wallet
Random selection of subjects were given misinformation on the incident. EX) The girls arm was hurt in the misinformation and her neck was hurt in the real event
Subjects were asked what they remember, many described in detail that they remembered seeing the misinformation ending with it being remembered 47%
They later went on to do neurological studies that showed brain activity can predict how you will remember something.
Loftus compared and did in-depth research on many studies over a span of 30 years trying to make conclusions on the malleability of memory. The studies she used for her own studies conducted a series of tests to see how they could manipulate memories. By changing small details or speaking of non-existent events over long periods of time it is possible to convince subjects of things that differ from what actually happened. This led to studies branching off into other aspects of the memory and many exciting discoveries.
Rich False Memories:
The OST et. al. 2005 experiment investigated a different type of misinformation effect called rich false memories. These are not just certain details changed but it is planting a whole new memory in someone's mind. In this particular experiment theld their test subject that they had been diagnosed with low blood sugar when they were four. At first the test subject said they had no recollection of ever going to the hospital. They were interviewed over 3 weeks to see if they were able to "recall" any of this memory .
Rich False Memories cont.
By the final interview they not only remembered this event happening, but had also added thier own details to it and even "remembered" how they felt. Adding a completely new memory to someone's mind is a much more lengthy process than simply chamging a version of events but can be done.
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