Term Paper on The formation of false memory

Experimental psychologists for many years are interested in knowing how and why memory fails. According to Greene, memories do not exist in a vacuum. Rather, dreams continuously disturb each other, with the help of “interference”. In order to prove this phenomenon, thousands of studies have been conducted regarding this theory. Each documented study shows how our memories can be interrupted by things that we experienced earlier, this process is called “proactive interference”. Furthermore, our dreams can be interrupted by things that we experienced later which is known as retroactive interference.

It has been noted that the modern research on interference is mainly focused on retroactive interference effects. The information which is gathered is misleading in some perspective; it states that people make errors when they report what they have seen. The new information which we receive invades us like a Trojan horse. Elizabeth Loftus studies the formation of false memories, which gives us a clear idea of how false memory is reinforced in our mind.

Procedure

The subjects in this study were deceived to believe that the main focus of the research was to understand “the kinds of things you may be able to remember from your childhood”. Each of the subjects was given a brief description of four events that supposedly took place while each of the participant and their close family member were together. Three events were true and one was the “lost” false event. The participants had to write about these events in detail. After doing so, they were interviewed about the events on two different occasions.

Subjects

There were three males and 21 females, the age was ranging from 18 to 53. Each participant had to complete all phases of the study. The participants were recruited by the University of Washington students. Each student submitted his or her pair of candidates, which included the subject and the participant’s relative. The subject pairs included the child-parent pairs or the sibling pairs.

Materials

Each of the subjects was mailed a five-page booklet which included a cover letter. The cover letter included instructions for completing the booklet and the scheduled interviews. In the booklet, there were four stories out of which four were short stories about events from the participant’s childhood. These events were submitted by the subject’s elder family member. Three of the stories were based on true occurrences and one was based on a false event. The order of the story in the booklet and the interview was the same.

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