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Don't Forger

When Memory Lies  
Photo of  Elizabeth Loftus and Alan Alda

Elizabeth Loftus speaks with Alan about creating false memories.

You've always loved pizza, right? Wait, are you sure about that? If anyone can convince you that you don't like pizza, Elizabeth Loftus of the University of California, Irvine can. Loftus is an expert on false memories. She may be able to persuade you to remember something you've never experienced. By changing many of her subjects' opinions about what foods they like or dislike, she has shown that it is remarkably easy to establish false memories. Beyond that, she can actually get people to change what they think based on these false memories.

While Alan doesn't quite succumb to Loftus' persuasiveness (he still doesn't think he ever got sick from eating hard-boiled eggs), he does go from being entirely convinced to not entirely sure.
Photo of Alan filling out questionnaire

Alan fills out questionnaire to see if he can be fooled into having false memories.


The ramifications of Loftus' research are wide-ranging. People often are wrongly accused and prosecuted based on witnesses' false memories that may have been inspired by a deceptive, misleading or misguided suggestion. No matter what the false memory, Loftus hopes that her research will help us to further understand the memory process and help us learn how to recall events more accurately.

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