The groundbreaking work of Loftus and Palmer (1974) first challenged the idea that our memories are an accurate record of events. These cognitive psychologists investigated the effect of leading questions on the accuracy of speed estimates of cars involved in a motor accident. They concluded that our memories are not as accurate as most people think.
Elizabeth Loftus is now the highest-ranking female in the list of top 100 psychologists, and she has gained worldwide renown for her experiments showing that memory is not always an accurate record of events. As you have read, her studies revealed that witness reports of the same incident varied according to the wording used by the questioner and as a result, the way witnesses are dealt with throughout the legal system has changed. Loftus later went on to show that it is possible to implant a false memory as demonstrated by the ‘Lost in the Mall’ and ‘Bugs Bunny’ studies.
In this TED presentation, she explains her latest thinking about memory reconstruction.
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