Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Memory Can Be Manipulated By Photos

Date:
November 21, 2007
Source:
University of California - Irvine
Summary:
The camera may not lie, but doctored photos do according to new research into digitally-altered photos and how they influence our memories and attitudes toward public events.

Top: Original image of Beijing event. Bottom: Doctored image of Beijing event.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of California - Irvine

The camera may not lie, but doctored photos do according to new research into digitally altered photos and how they influence our memories and attitudes toward public events.

When presented with digitally altered images depicting the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest in Beijing and a 2003 anti-war protest in Rome, participants in a new study by American and Italian researchers recalled the events as being bigger and more violent than they really were, suggesting that viewing doctored photographs might affect people’s memories of past public events.

The study was designed by UC Irvine psychologist Elizabeth Loftus and conducted by University of Padua researchers Franca Agnoli and Dario Sacchi.

Internet photo hoaxes are well known, but reputable media outlets such as the LA Times and USA Today recently published digitally altered photos, and subsequently issued retractions and apologies. When media use digitally doctored photographs, they may ultimately change the way we recall history, Loftus said.

“It shows the power of anyone to tamper with people’s recollection, and it gives the media another reason to regulate such doctoring, besides ethical reasons,” Loftus said.

In the study, 299 participants aged 19-84 viewed either original or digitally altered images depicting two events – the 1989 Tiananmen Square protest and a 2003 anti-war protest in Rome – and then answered questions about the events, including the number of people they thought had been involved, the response of law enforcement authorities and the level of violence.

Researchers doctored the Beijing photo to show large crowds standing in the sidelines while a lone protester stood before a row of advancing Chinese military tanks, and the Rome protest photo was altered to show riot police and a menacing, masked protester among a crowd of demonstrators.

“It’s potentially a form of human engineering that could be applied to us against our knowledge and against our wishes and we ought to be vigilant about it,” Loftus said. “With the addition of a few little upsetting and arousing elements in the Rome protest photo, people remembered this peaceful protest as being more violent than it was, and as a society we have to figure how we can regulate this.”

Viewing the digitally altered images affected the way participants remembered the events, as well as their attitudes toward protests. Those who viewed the doctored photograph of the Rome protest recalled the demonstration as violent and negative, and also recalled more physical confrontation and property damage. Participants who viewed the doctored photos said they were less inclined to participate in future protests, according to the study.

"Any media that employ digitally doctored photographs will have a stronger effect than merely influencing our opinion -- by tampering with our malleable memory, they may ultimately change the way we recall history," says lead author Dario Sacchi.

This research was published in the journal Applied Cognitive Psychology.


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. "Memory Can Be Manipulated By Photos." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119213945.htm>.
University of California - Irvine. (2007, November 21). Memory Can Be Manipulated By Photos. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119213945.htm
University of California - Irvine. "Memory Can Be Manipulated By Photos." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071119213945.htm (accessed August 23, 2014).

Share This




More Computers & Math News

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Apple iPhone 6 Screen Hits Snag Ahead of Launch

Apple iPhone 6 Screen Hits Snag Ahead of Launch

Reuters - Business Video Online (Aug. 22, 2014) Reuters has learned Apple is scrambling to get enough screens ready for the iPhone 6. Sources say it's unclear whether this could delay the launch. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Is Apple's iMessage Really Being Overrun By Spammers?

Is Apple's iMessage Really Being Overrun By Spammers?

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) A report says more than one third of all SMS spam over the past year came from a "single campaign" using iMessage and targeting iPhone users. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Families Can Now Ask Twitter To Remove Photos Of Deceased

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) In the wake of a high-profile harassment case, Twitter says family members can ask for photos of dying or dead relatives to be taken down. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ballmer Leaves Microsoft's Board, Has Advice For Nadella

Ballmer Leaves Microsoft's Board, Has Advice For Nadella

Newsy (Aug. 19, 2014) In a letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Ballmer said he's leaving the board of directors and offered tips on how the company can be successful. 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:
from the past week

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