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#245610 - 08/19/08 06:09 PM False memory research - new
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
August 19, 2008
For Immediate Release

Contact: Catherine West
(202) 293-9300
cwest@psychologicalscience.org

New Study Shows False Memories Affect Behavior

Do you know someone who claims to remember their first day of kindergarten? Or a trip they took as a toddler? While some people may be able to recall trivial details from the past, laboratory research shows that the human memory can be remarkably fragile and even inventive.

In fact, people can easily create false memories of their past and a new study shows that such memories can have long-term effects on our behavior.

Psychologists Elke Geraerts of the University of St. Andrews and Maastricht University, Daniel Bernstein of Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the University of Washington, Harald Merckelbach, Christel Linders, and Linsey Raymaekers of Maastricht University, and Elizabeth F. Loftus of University of California, Irvine, found that it is possible to change long-term behaviors using a simple suggestive technique.

In a series of experiments, the researchers falsely suggested that participants had become ill after eating egg salad as a child. Afterwards, the researchers offered different kinds of sandwiches to the participants, including ones with an egg salad filling. Four months later, the participants were asked to be in a separate study in which they evaluated egg salad as well as other foods. They were then given the same kinds of sandwiches that had been offered to them four months earlier.

Interestingly, participants who were told they had become ill as a child after eating egg salad showed a distinct change in attitudes and behavior towards this food after the experiment. They not only gave the food lower evaluations than participants who did not develop false memories or were in the control group, but they also avoided egg salad sandwiches more than any of the other participants four months later.

The results, appearing in the August issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, “clearly demonstrate that false suggestions about childhood events can profoundly change people’s attitudes and behavior,” wrote the authors.

These findings have significant implications for the authenticity of reports of recovered memory experiences. While previous research indicates that spontaneously recovered memories may reflect real memories of abuse, there is no such evidence for abuse memories recovered through suggestive therapy. The results might also influence obesity treatments and dieting choices. The authors suggest that it may be possible for people to learn to avoid certain foods by believing they had negative experiences with the food as a child. Overall, this study clearly demonstrates that false suggestions about childhood events can profoundly change people’s attitudes and behavior.



Author Contact: Elke Geraerts E.Geraerts@PSYCHOLOGY.unimaas.nl


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#245626 - 08/19/08 07:34 PM Re: False memory research - new [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
king tut Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/13/08
Posts: 2469
Loc: UK
Originally Posted By: Ken Singer, LCSW


Do you know someone who claims to remember their first day of kindergarten? Or a trip they took as a toddler? While some people may be able to recall trivial details from the past, laboratory research shows that the human memory can be remarkably fragile and even inventive.



I can remember lots of things from when i was little, but then i am not really old, but when i am old, i think i will still remember them, i think some memories stick, i think maybe the human mind can be thought of as fragile and inventive on one hand, but it is also really hardy, i have a good memory, i can remember things like my first day to infants school (not the whole day- just a couple of details), or little things that happen in school, events and things, and they are not false. I think the brain is more remarkable and strong than this report suggests.

I don't know about recovered memories, i know what is meant by the term, but since i haven't got any recovered memories i can not really grasp the concept so well, i haven't got a feel for it so i can not comment. I think this report needs some input from somebody with recovered memories so that the idea of recovered memories can be quantified better.

So, if i tell you Ken that you were bit by a really big spider when you were little, in a couple of months, do you think you would have the guts to venture into the spider thread on the members side?

_________________________
"...until lambs become lions"

I love you, little lewis, and i will never leave you. We are the same. You brighten my day, and i will make sure that i brighten yours. Hugs and kisses.


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#245634 - 08/19/08 08:35 PM Re: False memory research - new [Re: king tut]
ineffable Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 1371
Loc: state of holeecrapdood
Interesting, but what/where is the science?
Sounds more like suggestability or classical conditioning & how does that relate to remembering kindergarten?
The implicit memory debate will continue until neuroscience & technology progresses.
Much like the debate that psychology is a philosophy & not a science.

C

_________________________
:: "Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there" ::


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#245637 - 08/19/08 09:13 PM Re: False memory research - new [Re: ineffable]
dgoods Offline
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Registered: 10/15/07
Posts: 622
Loc: Richmond area
To echo "ineffable"- Interesting, but what exactly is the value here to survivors? "Gee, I might've confabulated what i've taken to be memories of actual events"? While exploring the roots of why various of us come here is fine, and i've long known that human memory is fallible, this seems to be a question that belongs elsewhere. I'd hate to imagine any newcomer to the site dismissing their own experiences, due to believing that they "made it all up" or some such. It would be so much easier to believe, for many of us, that it was our fault, or didn't actually happen at all; why steer folks in that direction? Seems to me the trick would be acknowledging that such evil behavior toward children is possible, and happens every day. There's a reason why this site exists, and has as many members as it does; and false memories aren't it! If the point of this was to stir people up, and give survivors a heads-up on where therapists take their cues from, fine; but c'mon now- think it through before posting! Sorry, but think of newcomers first, is all I'm saying.

_________________________
Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.

-William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Sc. III

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#245706 - 08/20/08 01:19 AM Re: False memory research - new [Re: dgoods]
WalkingSouth Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/30/05
Posts: 16265
Ken,

What are your thoughts on this article in particular and on "recovered memory" in general?

_________________________
“Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy ____…! What a ride!’” ~Hunter S. Thompson

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#245730 - 08/20/08 07:31 AM Re: False memory research - new [Re: WalkingSouth]
roadrunner Offline
Administrator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 05/02/05
Posts: 22045
Loc: Carlisle, PA
Ken,

I have an interesting example of this from my own childhood. As an adult my "memory" of the pre-abuse me was a shy and awkward boy already having trouble of various kinds. But then in 2006 I was helping my parents clear out old stuff from their house and we found a ton of old pictures. I was stunned. Little Larry was clearly a happy and outgoing boy full of fun and eager to try new things. I checked with my parents and they confirmed that image. They said that it was only when I was 10 (i.e. when the abuse began) that I began to change dramatically. They thought it was because I was entering adolescence.

So it seems that what I did was to project my self-image back into my past and cope with the boy I was becoming by convincing myself that I had always been that way.

_________________________
Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking my freedom highway.
Nobody living can make me turn back:
This land was made for you and me.
(Woody Guthrie)

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#245738 - 08/20/08 08:50 AM Re: False memory research - new [Re: roadrunner]
Ken Singer, LCSW Offline
Moderator Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 08/24/00
Posts: 5780
Loc: Lambertville, NJ USA
I was hesitant in posting this article. One, it is a pop summary of a research study and in that sense, its brief de>

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#245755 - 08/20/08 09:52 AM Re: False memory research - new [Re: Ken Singer, LCSW]
ineffable Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 02/07/08
Posts: 1371
Loc: state of holeecrapdood
Interesting Larry, because your example sounds like a perception you had about yourself that was dispelled by the truth
& not the suggestion of an untruth.

Ken, the way the article was written is "slanted" in my opinion by the word choices & information or lack thereof supplied by the author.
Using "trivial" to describe events as in trips taken as a toddler or the first day of kindergarten.
Is the author practicing suggestability too?
\:\)
From the egg salad example, we weren't told what the test subject's view on egg salad was to begin with.
Were the test sandwiches four months later also four months old?
Were they on the subjects favoured kind of bread, did they have big chunks of pickles in them?

I always look at who the article was intended for & the arena the information will be presented in as well as how I react at a gut level.
(critical thinking skills taught in grade 10 still serve me well)

C

_________________________
:: "Anyone who can handle a needle convincingly can make us see a thread which is not there" ::


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#245760 - 08/20/08 10:34 AM Re: False memory research - new [Re: ineffable]
MemoryVault Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 693
Loc: NJ
Ken --

Thanks for posting this, but I agree that a lot of caution is needed. This study is about trivial memories -- It seems to me that trivial memories and perceptions are very different from traumatic memories. Neither kind is infallible but we can't conclude that they work the same way.

Here's a "false memory" of mine:

In the early 80s, as a young teen, I convinced myself that I'd always hated disco. It wasn't until disco became quasi-acceptable again that I felt free to recall that Saturday Night Fever had been a favorite album of mine when I was ten.

A false memory--but also completely meaningless--just a reflection of how I wanted to see myself in the light of changing styles.

I've also had to rethink memories I had, or thought I had, about abuse. I've had memories of sexual abuse that I know, or think I know, are true, and many others that I now disbelieve...I think I forced myself to supply details to give shape to a terrible feeling. Traumatic memories need to be questioned, too, but they're very different. We remember, forget, recover the truth, and somtimes make mistakes when we try to give flickering impressions, feelings, and flashbacks a narrative with a beginning, middle, and end. Our minds do different things when we're in pain, when knowing and not-knowing both hurt.

Bottom line -- this study doesn't have much to say about traumatic memory. It's implying that there's a connection (after all, the article is coming out during a cultural debate about recovered memories of sexual abuse, not about whether egg salad is good for you!) But it doesn't, and can't, make the connection.

David



Edited by MemoryVault (08/20/08 10:38 AM)

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#245890 - 08/20/08 06:05 PM Re: False memory research - new [Re: MemoryVault]
mogigo Offline
Member
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 04/24/07
Posts: 1331
Loc: Colorado
Just adding my "great" to this post. "just a figment of my imagination?"

Not what I need Ken, the memories are not clear but the issues are. Don't need to hear I'm screwing my life up out of some unconcious need. I was sane before I read this, now I'm not sure.

Stay strong
Mike

_________________________
Thriving

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