The formation of false memories - Loftus, E.F. and Pickrell, J.E. (1995)
We often think of memory as being like a video tape that we can wind back and replay as often as we like. Unfortunately research shows that our memories are not as stable or as accurate as we think they are. Elizabeth Loftus has been a pioneer in showing how easily memories can be changed or created entirely.
The original research paper can be read here. A two part summary of the research is here and here.
Also, this BBC page tries to show how easy it is for false memories to be implanted into you! Did it work on you?
Test your knowledge using this quizlet and this one.
Test your own false memories...
Assignment 1 - Alternative study - Loftus and Pickrell using objective measurements
Loftus and Pickrell performed an study where they used interviews and rating scales.
1. How could they have performed a study with similar aims, but as an experiment with a more objective DV?
Write a description of the study, including the who, what, where and how.
2. What would the advantages and disadvantages of such an experiment be, compared to the original?
Evaluate this new study in practical and ethical terms.
Submit your alternative study and evaluation through the form on the home page.
Big Issue - Usefulness
The usefulness (or "applications to the real world") of a study means whether or not there are obvious areas in the real world where the results of the study can be helpfully used.
For example, psychological research where a new drug is developed for depression has clear and obvious usefulness in treating the condition.
How can you assess the usefulness of Loftus and Pickrell's study? In what areas of life would these results be useful? Try to think of five examples and write them down in your notes.
Once you've done that, this Psyblog article might give you some more ideas. There are some very important issues to do with the legal system which this research can be applied to.
Revision activity - Paper 2 usefulness question...
4 (a) Outline what is meant by ‘application of psychology to everyday life’. 
Using the studies from the list below, answer the questions which follow.
Billington et al (empathising and systemising)
Rosenhan (sane in insane places)
Maguire et al (taxi drivers)
(b) Describe how each of these studies is useful. 
(c) What problems may psychologists have when they try to create useful studies? 
Complete for revision and submit through the form on the home page.
Assignment 2 - Keywords Generator
Make a list of 12 key words from the Loftus and Pickrell study
Access the 'BrainyBox' page on Classtools.net by following this link.
I want you to enter the definitions and the keyword. Put three or four on each page. Also include any pictures that you think are helpful. You will create a page where the key words and their definitions rotate and change place.
Once you've finished, save your page and then email me the link for your page. The best one will be embedded in here!
Past exam style questions
Evaluate the study by Loftus and Pickrell in terms of ecological validity 
Evaluate Loftus and Pickrell in terms of one strength and one weakness 
2. What is meant by the term ecological validity? 
(b) How ecologically valid is the data in the study by Loftus and Pickrell 
(d) One possible threat to the study are extraneous variables. To what extent did Loftus and Pickrell control the research on false memories 
(d)Discuss the practical and ethical issues raised through the formulation of the false event /story 
3. (a) Outline what is meant by quantitative and qualitative data 
(b) Describe the quantitative and/or qualitative data in Loftus and Pickrell’s study 
(c) What problems may psychologists have when their research has only quantitative or qualitative data? 
Look up the case of George Franklin here and here, a man who was imprisoned as a result of 'recovered' memories from his daughter, which could well have been false memories.
Juries place a huge amount of importance on eye-witness testimony in court cases. An eye-witness makes a guilty verdict far more likely. 75% of verdicts overturned by DNA testing involve an eye-witness! However, Loftus' research tells us that eye-witnesses will often be unreliable, or mistaken entirely!