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False Memory

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286392.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:27 am Reply with quote

Yes - is she still messing with people's minds, then?

Frederick The Monk
286474.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:27 am Reply with quote

Oh yes - she's worse than ever.

286573.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:03 am Reply with quote

That's an interesting test. I think I remember seeing the word fruit in list three but realising that, while the words were fruit related, the actual word fruit was not among them.

Obviously didn't work for spider, though.

I used to be scared of spiders, but have since told myself to "get a grip" :)

I have never, to my knowledge, been scared of fruit.

286599.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:32 am Reply with quote

This isn't about false memories, but it's great, and I wanted to log it here.

You know the "tip of your tongue" phenomonon? Well it turns out that synaesthetes also experience this, and moreover they actually can just about "taste the word" on the tip of their tongue!

In one case a participant tasted tuna when she was trying to remember the word 'castanet'.

More from the brilliant psyblog

286602.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:35 am Reply with quote

Anyway, back to false memories:

Sorry about the following long c&p:

Wells & Bradfield, 1998

Participants were asked to watch 8 seconds of grainy security camera footage showing a man walking into a store. The footage was slowed down so that participants could get as much information as possible. The quality of the video, however, was not that good.

After watching the video, participants were told that the man is a murderer. Just after the footage cuts away, the man shot and killed the store's security guard. This information is not misleading - the CCTV footage is real - as is the subsequent murder of the security guard.

Participants were then told that their job is to identify the killer from a five-person photospread. This photospread was identical to the one used in the real case except - and here's the twist - the real gunman has been removed. Having been told, though, that the gunman is in the photospread, all the participants identify one of the men.

This is where the experimenters got clever. They then introduced three different experimental manipulations:

* One group of participants were given no feedback on their choice of suspect.
* The second were told they had made the wrong choice from the photospread and that the answer was one of the other men.
* The third group, though, were congratulated: "Good, you identified the actual suspect." Although, of course, they hadn't - no one had.

After this participants were asked about many aspects of their identification including how certain they were, how good their view of the gunman was and their ability to make out the details of his face.

The results showed that simply congratulating participants on choosing the right suspect had a huge effect on their reports when compared to those told nothing and those told they were wrong. Those given positive feedback were suddenly much more sure they were right, thought the identification was easier, had a better view, thought their judgement was more trustworthy and would be more willing to testify.


Frederick The Monk
286857.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:45 pm Reply with quote

Right I've spoken to Elizabeth Loftus who reckons we stand the best chance of getting a good result with the Deese-Roediger-McDermott paradigm rather than trying to imprint a false memory before the show using the technique she used on Alan Alda. He was already making a show on false memory so didn't see anything fishy in being asked to fill in a questionnaire about it before hand. Our Alan might suspect we're trying to tinker with his brain. Anyway, she's given me Roediger and McDermott's email so I'll drop them a line and see what we can come up with.

286931.  Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:14 pm Reply with quote


What Health & Safety will make of our messing with people's minds I hate to think. However, as long as I never post anything on the internet about agreeing with your plans I think I'll be safe.

295383.  Thu Mar 13, 2008 10:25 am Reply with quote

Something my old workplace is hosting, and my friend is bitching about all the activity on his server now it's gone properly viral.

So be sure and all download it at once :)

298023.  Tue Mar 18, 2008 9:46 am Reply with quote

A new study is arguing that children's testimonies are more reliable than adults'.

They say children depend more heavily on a part of the mind that records, "what actually happened," while adults depend more on another part of the mind that records, "the meaning of what happened." As a result, they say, adults are more susceptible to false memories

The finding is counterintuitive; it doesn't square with current legal tenets, and may have important implications for legal proceedings.

301359.  Mon Mar 24, 2008 9:08 am Reply with quote

Here’s a nice bit of false memory. The writer Colin MacLean had diphtheria in 1928, and writes that, for many years he told people about the little side-ward he was in for three months at hospital, and how next to his bed there was a tall piece of furniture - “a wardrobe.” Until, 60 years after the event, he was telling this story in front of his older sister, who had been in the same ward, and who told him it was nonsense: “There was no wardrobe, but the third bed in the small room had been occupied by a lady whose name was Wardrobe.” As he puts it “My memory was a pictorial pun.”

S: “Monkeys, Bears and Gutta Percha” by Colin MacLean (Tuckwell Press, 2001).

Frederick The Monk
303809.  Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:11 am Reply with quote

Dr. Ewen Cameron believed he had come up with a cure for schizophrenia. His theory was that the brain could be reprogrammed to think in healthy ways by forcibly imposing new thought patterns on it. His method was to make patients wear headphones and listen to audio messages looped over and over, sometimes for days or even weeks at a time. He called this method "psychic driving," because the messages were being driven into the psyche. The press hailed it as "beneficial brainwashing."

During the 1950s and early 1960s, hundreds of Cameron's patients at Montreal's Allan Memorial Clinic became his unwitting test subjects — whether or not they actually had schizophrenia. Some patients checked in complaining of problems as minor as menopause-related anxiety, only to find themselves sedated with barbiturates, strapped into a bed, and forced to listen for days on end to messages such as "People like you and need you. You have confidence in yourself."

One time, to test the technique, Cameron placed patients into a drugged sleep and made them listen to the message, "When you see a piece of paper, you want to pick it up." Later he drove them to a local gymnasium. There, lying in the middle of the gym floor, was a single piece of paper. He happily reported that many of them spontaneously walked over to pick it up.

When the CIA learned of what Cameron was doing, it became interested and started surreptitiously channeling him money. But eventually the agency concluded that Cameron's technique was a failure and cut his funding, prompting Cameron himself to admit that his experiments had been "a ten year trip down the wrong road." In the late 1970s a group of Cameron's former patients filed suit against the CIA for its support of his work and reached an out-of-court settlement for an undisclosed amount of money.


309726.  Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:15 am Reply with quote

Perhaps as a note to this, or to the Paris syndrome question is the strange story of the Oxford man who believed that he was mentally ill. His doctors disagreed which led to a strange paradox; either he was mentally ill, and so the belief was nothing to worry about, or he wasn't mentally ill, in which case he was deluded and therefore mentally ill.

310198.  Thu Apr 03, 2008 6:53 pm Reply with quote

That's classic Catch 22 logic isn't it?

396892.  Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:21 am Reply with quote

There are (at least) Seven Types of Forgetting:

Repressive erasure;
Prescriptive forgetting;
Forgetting that is constitutive in the formation of a new identity;
Structural amnesia;
Forgetting as annulment;
Forgetting as planned obsolescence;
Forgetting as humiliated silence.



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