In this article, Elizabeth F. Loftus describes her research in memory. The article begins with make-believe memories. In this research, Loftus explains that memory distortion has shown that post event suggestions can contaminate what a person remembers. Moreover, suggestion can lead to false memories being injected outright into the minds of people. Loftus then describes her study of eyewitness testimony. In this particular study, Loftus showed participants a complex event such as a simulated automobile accident. Next, half of the participants would receive misleading information about the accident, whereas the other half will receive no misinformation. Finally, all of the participants will try to remember the original accident. The misled participants got the false suggestion that the stop sign that they had actually seen was a yield sign. When asked later what kind of traffic sign they personally remembered seeing at the intersection, those who had been given the false suggestion tended to adopt it as their memory and claim they had seen a yield sign. Those who had not received the false information had much more accurate memories. She asks how accurate the individual’s memory is during the crime or accident. And what factors may influence the memory of the individual. Loftus continues to explore how planting false memory works. In this study, what striked Loftus were the complete false memories, or what might be termed rich false memories, which are experiences about which a person can feel confident, provide details even express emotion about made-up events that never happened. Loftus thus explored whether we are truly planting a false memory. Perhaps the suggestive manipulation is leading people to discover a true memory rather than leading them to embrace a false one. Her research in reconstructive memory shows the importance of relativity memory has in our everyday life. Which shows that faulty eyewitness memory is the major cause of wrongful convictions? This revelation has led to numerous recommendations for the legal system to protect the fact-finding process from the tragedies of mistaken memory. In short Loftus discovers that people’s memories are no the only sum of all that they have done, but there is more to them: The memories are also the sum of what they have thought, what they have been told, and what they have believe.
-ShaoChien Lin (Tim Lin)