GRAND ILLUSIONS OF MEMORY
Michael Hall, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine
New studies show the power of suggestion to make people believe that they have had experiences that they didn`t have. People have been led to remember nonexistent events from the recent past as well as non-existent events from their childhood. They can be led to falsely believe that they have had familiar experiences, but also rather bizarre or implausible ones (e.g., that they witnessed demonic possession as a child). They can be led to believe that they did things that would have been impossible (e.g., that they shook hands with Bugs Bunny during a trip to Disneyland). They can also be led to falsely believe that they had experiences that would have been highly traumatic had they actually happened. Moreover, false beliefs and memories can have consequences for people, affecting their later thoughts and behaviors.
Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine is President-elect of WPA.