Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

From Kissing Frogs To Demonic Possession, People Are Led To Believe They Experienced The Improbable

Date:
February 17, 2003
Source:
University Of California - Irvine
Summary:
During a recent study of memory recall and the use of suggestive interviewing, UC Irvine cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus successfully planted false memories in volunteers of several study groups -- memories that included such unlikely events as kissing frogs, shaking hands with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland, and witnessing a demonic possession.

Irvine, Calif. -- During a recent study of memory recall and the use of suggestive interviewing, UC Irvine cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus successfully planted false memories in volunteers of several study groups -- memories that included such unlikely events as kissing frogs, shaking hands with Bugs Bunny at Disneyland, and witnessing a demonic possession.

Related Articles


Her success at planting these memories challenge the argument that suggestive interviewing may reliably prompt real memories instead of planting false ones. A pioneer in false memory research and Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology at UCI, Loftus will present her latest research at the American Association for the Advancement of Science Annual Meeting in Denver at the "Remembering Traumatic Experiences in Childhood: Reliability and Limitations of Memory" symposium beginning at 2:30 p.m. MST Sunday, Feb. 16.

Loftus conducted her study by having volunteers conduct a set of actions that mixed the common place (flipping a coin) with the unusual and even bizarre (crushing a Hershey's kiss with a dental floss container). Later, her research team asked volunteers to imagine additional actions they performed that day, such as kissing a frog. At a future time, participants were asked to recall their actions on that specific day[j1]. Ayanna Thomas, a doctoral student in Loftus' research group, found that 15 percent of the study's volunteers claimed they had actually performed some of the actions they had only imagined.

In another study, Loftus showed how false memories can be planted with a visual. Loftus and her colleagues exposed volunteers to a fake print advertisement describing a visit to Disneyland where they would meet Bugs Bunny. Later, 33 percent of these volunteers claimed they knew or remembered the event happening to them. (Bugs Bunny is a Warner Bros. character and has never appeared at Disneyland.) The false memory rate was boosted when people were given multiple exposures to the fake advertisement. In one study, 36 percent of those given three exposures said they met Bugs Bunny, compared to only 9 percent in a control condition. Loftus' collaborators on this study included Kathryn Braun-LaTour, Melissa Grinley and Jacquie Pickrell.

These studies continue three decades of research by Loftus proving that memory is highly susceptible to distortion and contamination. Her past work has shown that people can be led to remember rather familiar or common experiences, even when these experiences likely had not occurred. Much of Loftus's work has focused on false claims of repressed memories of sexual abuse. She also has shown that eyewitness accounts, notably those given in court, often are inaccurate. Loftus has served as an expert witness or consultant on some of the nation's most high-profile trials, including the McMartin Pre-school molestation case, the "Hillside Strangler" case, the police officers involved in the Rodney King beating and the Bosnian War Trials.

Ranked among the 25 psychologists most frequently cited in introductory psychology textbooks, Loftus is the author of "Eyewitness Testimony," which won a National Media Award, and co-author of the widely cited book, "The Myth of Repressed Memory."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of California - Irvine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of California - Irvine. "From Kissing Frogs To Demonic Possession, People Are Led To Believe They Experienced The Improbable." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 February 2003. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030217115223.htm>.
University Of California - Irvine. (2003, February 17). From Kissing Frogs To Demonic Possession, People Are Led To Believe They Experienced The Improbable. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030217115223.htm
University Of California - Irvine. "From Kissing Frogs To Demonic Possession, People Are Led To Believe They Experienced The Improbable." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/02/030217115223.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Prenatal Exposure To Pollution Might Increase Autism Risk

Newsy (Dec. 18, 2014) Harvard researchers found children whose mothers were exposed to high pollution levels in the third trimester were twice as likely to develop autism. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Yoga Could Be As Beneficial For The Heart As Walking, Biking

Newsy (Dec. 17, 2014) Yoga can help your weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and heart just as much as biking and walking does, a new study suggests. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins