False Memories Essay

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False memories are events recalled by a witness that did not actually happen. There is research which suggests that up to 20% of those studied maintain a record of detailed personal memories that are completely false (Mazzoni, Scoboria, and Harvey, 2010). As reported in Alexander (2013), false memories can even be found in those with an otherwise excellent recall: Some people have an amazing ability to recall specific events, like exactly what happened on a particular day decades ago. For example, when one person with such so-called highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) was asked what happened on October 19, 1987, she quickly replied that it was a Monday, “the day of the big stock market crash and the cellist Jacqueline du Pré died…show more content…
The results could have enormous implications for legal proceedings, and any other forum that relies upon the memory of witnesses. When a University of California Irvine team led by a graduate student Lawrence Patihis tested 20 super-memory people and 38 age- and sex-matched people with normal memory powers on three different tests known to elicit false memories, the HSAM people performed no better than the others. HSAM is different from using mnemonic tricks and extensive training to remember the order of playing cards or lists, like those described in writer Joshua Foer’s popular book, Moonwalking with Einstein. It’s a natural and seemingly fool proof, ability, although no one knows how many people have it. In the test, all the people were asked to read about United Flight 93 of Sept. 11, 2001. Part of what they read stated that “video footage of the plane crashing” was taken by somebody on the ground. In fact, no such video exists. Yet after reading the material, 20 percent of HSAM people and 29 percent of the other group indicated they had indeed seen the video. In a later interview, 10 percent of HSAM people stuck to their stories. Of the total number of fake details about the crash planted in their minds, there was no significant difference in false memory between HSAM and normal memory
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