False individual recalls something that did not actually

memories are a psychological phenomenon where an individual recalls something
that did not actually happen in reality. There are many factors that can
influence the fabrication of a false memory. This could include repeated
misinformation of the original source. Prior knowledge and existing schemas can
also interfere with the individual trying to form a new memory, resulting in
the recollection of an event to be faulty or entirely erroneous. There are two
articles that will be reviewed within this paper. The first article is titled False Memories of Childhood
Experiences, by Ira E. Hyman et. al., and the second article is Imagination and memory: Does imagining
implausible events lead to false autobiographical memories by Kathy Pezdek
et. al. Both articles are similar in a plethora of ways, but also contain a
multitude of differences. This paper will elaborate upon both the articles and emphasize
the different key points amongst them.

article by Hyman conducted an experiment “to investigate if college students
would create false memories of childhood experiences in response to misleading
information and repeated interviews” (Hyman et. al., 1995). Specifically, the author’s
predicted that after the first interview, the proceeding interview would consist
of college students recalling false experiences based on the misleading information
presents in the first interview. In this first experiment, there were twenty
participants. They were all introductory to psychology students from Western
Washington University. These students participated in two interviews; the
second interview being one to seven days after the first. However, before the
interviews, students were sent home with questionnaires to give to their
parents to fill out. These questionnaires asked parents to describe events that
happened to their child between the ages of two to ten in six specific
categories. These included getting lost, going to a hospital, an eventful
birthday, loss of a pet, family vacation, and interactions with a prominent or famous
person. Next, the authors made up to false events that none of the subjects
parents listed as actual childhood memory events. These included, specifically,
having a birthday party with pizza and a clown at the age of five, and being
hospitalized for an ear infection at the age of five. These two events would be
used in the interviews as the misleading information.

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both the interviews, the college students were asked to “remember and describe
a series of two to five true childhood events” (Hyman et. al., 1996). In addition,
they were also asked to recall one of the two false event that they should have
had no memory of. At the beginning of the first interview, students were informed
with these instructions and stated that the goal for the subjects was to see
how much more they can recall by the end of the second interview. The subjects
were cued with an even title, for example: family vacation, followed by an age
that ranged from two to ten, and then the subjects were supposed to try to
remember this event and elaborate upon it. This recollection should match up
with what their parents noted about the events. The false event was presented
the same way, except there would be no correlation of the event with what the
parents noted. At the end of the first interview, the subjects were instructed
to keep thinking about the events to see if they can remember anything more for
the next interview. The second interview happened one to seven days after and
the same procedure was given as in the first interview. After this was
complete, the subjects were debriefed about the false event and were asked to
guess which event they recollected was the false event.

results yielded the hypothesis to be true. That, indeed, if an individual is
presented false, misleading information, that same individual is more likely to
fabricate a false memory around that misleading information and create a false
experience in their autobiographical memory. Collectively, the 20 student
participants in this experiment were asked to recall 74 true events. In the
first interview, the subjects recalled 62 of the 74 true events and none of the
twenty individuals incorporated any of the false events. In the following
second interview, subjects were able to recall three of the 12 true memories
that were not recollected during the first interview, to give it an overall
total of 65 true events remembered out of the 74 that were asked about. However,
in that same second interview, four of the twenty subjects did incorporate the false
event information into an event description to fabricate a false memory
unintentionally. Three of the four subjects who did incorporate the event were
not able to identify the false event as it containing misleading information,
while subjects who did not incorporate the false event were able to correctly
identify the false event.   

experiment demonstrated that, indeed, “individuals will create false recalls of
childhood experiences in response to misleading information and the social
demands present in repeated interviews.” It was observed that the four subjects
who recalled the false experiences tried to “connect false information to true
information” where they describe an actual event that did happen but infused
details that didn’t not. It was deemed that the creation of false childhood
memories “resembles the process whereby eyewitness memories are distorted by post
event information.” This meaning that verbal information given after an event
alters the original information an individual experienced first-hand due to
social demands or majority of society agreeing to one option, which therefore
pressures to fit into the norm and chose the same as society.

were several aspects that could have potentially contributed to the increased enforcement
of constructing false memories. One of these is that fact that subjects were
told that they were expected to remember more events for the second interview. This
vocalized requirement seemed to add to the power of this social situation in
which subjects forced themselves to remember more and if not add to their
experiences things that might not have been true but rather ambiguous. The more
ambiguous a memory is, the easier it is to alter it and confuse it with another
memory, or tag on misleading information that seems like it would fit into it. The
vaguer your memory is from childhood experiences, the more prone you were to
conforming to social demands and more incline to accede to the misleading false
information given by others.

article by Pezdek conducted an experiment to investigate whether “event plausibility
and the process of imagining an event can affect the planting of false events
in memory”, and whether these two variables have interactive effects. This hypothesis
was tested using the imagination inflation procedure, in which “imagining events
on the Life Events Inventory increases belief that the events occurred in one’s
childhood (Pezdek et. al., 2006). This experiment contained 145 subjects that
were all college students at California State University. There were three
phases of the experiment. In the first phase, subjects were instructed to
complete a 20 item LEI (Life Events Inventory) where they rated 20 events on a
scale from 1 (definitely did not happen to me prior to age ten) to 8 (definitely
did happen to me prior to age ten). In addition, 68 of those subjects were instructed
to also rate each event from 1 (having no memory of the event) to 3 (having a
detailed memory of the event).

second phase, the intervention phase, was a week later. Each subject was given
a packet to complete which conveyed four target events (which were listed as
the LEI events in the first phase). Two of the target events were listed as
highly plausible childhood events and the other two as low. The subjects were
asked to imagine one of the high and one of the low listed plausible events and
write a detailed description of their image after they had been disclosed
plausibility information from the experimenters and were able to recite that
plausibility information back. Time two phase came one week after the
completion of the intervention phase. Subjects were instructed to fill out the
20 LEI a second time just as they did the first time, and the 68 subset
subjects were asked to provide memory rating, just as the first time.

analyzing the data, results showed that the hypothesis was correct; plausibility
and imagination have a significant interactive effect in contributing to formulating
false memories. There was also a significance in each of the variables as they
stood alone in the experiment. Plausibility had an enhancing effect on forming false
memories and imagining had a separate significant effect on aiding the forming
of false memories. The higher the plausibility events had a significantly different
change in occurrence ratings between no imagination and imagination, while the low
plausibility events having barely any significant change of occurrence ratings.
This means that when subjects imagined events that were told to be of higher probability
of occurrence or plausibility, the subjects were more inclined to search their
autobiographical memory for event related information and if not conform to
create false memories. The overall findings confirm that ” people’s occurrence
ratings for the target events increase as a consequence of imagining the events,
and that plausible events received higher occurrence ratings that do
implausible events” (Pezdek et. al., 2006).

articles and authors have interpreted that false memories become planted in
memory when he suggested false event is judged true, because then the false
memory can become constructed from details of the generic false misleading information
given as well as details from related episode of the events that happened to
the individual previous in their given lifetime. Original autobiographical memories
become subject to change when they are vague in memory. This then allows one to
more easily concede to accommodate events that others regard as more probable.

research field still has many gaps to fill and unanswered questions to explain.
Working with the brain or memories is far from a straightforward act, for only
the individual that possesses the thoughts and memories is able to access the
information. It is a great phenomenon that our brain has the subconscious ability
to alter our memories without us ever knowing about it happening. This just
goes to show that our memory is sometimes unreliable, even more so as we
progress in age. Hymans experiment also expressed how easily our memories can
be conformed based on false information, if the whole original information is
not present to us. It is acknowledged that our memory will be more prone to
conform in a setting where a group is involved and majority of the individuals
agree the same thing, then so will you. Being that some memories are extremely malleable,
it makes the job of a therapist or police officer difficult and tedious, since
they have to differentiate between if the subject is extrapolating upon false
memories or actual original memories. This, also, makes the road to recovery
for a patient seeking therapy or investigation longer and more complicated. 


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