A picture is worth a thousand lies: Using false photographs to create false childhood memories
Because image-enhancing technology is readily available, people are frequently exposed to doctored images. However, in prior research on how adults can be led to report false childhood memories, subjects have typically been exposed to personalized and detailed narratives describing false events. Instead, we exposed 20 subjects to a false childhood event via a fake photograph and imagery instructions. Over three interviews, subjects thought about a photograph showing them on a hot air balloon ride and tried to recall the event by using guided-imagery exercises. Fifty percent of the subjects created complete or partial false memories. The results bear on ways in which false memories can be created and also have practical implications for those involved in clinical and legal settings.
- Belli, R. F., &Loftus, E. F. (1996). The pliability of autobiographical memory: Misinformation and the false memory problem. In D. C. Rubin (Ed.),Remembering our past: Studies in autobiographical memory (pp. 157–179). New York: Cambridge University Press. CrossRef
- Ceci, S. J., Huffman, M. L., &Smith, E. (1994). Repeatedly thinking about a non-event: Source misattributions among preschoolers.Consciousness & Cognition,3, 388–407. CrossRef
- Dolan, Y. M. (1991).Resolving sexual abuse: Solution-focused therapy and Ericksonian hypnosis for adult survivors. New York: Norton.
- Finke, R. A., Johnson, M. K., &Shyi, G. C.-W. (1988). Memory confusions for real and imagined completions of symmetrical visual patterns.Memory & Cognition,16, 133–137. CrossRef
- Gross, J., &Hayne, H. (1999). Drawing facilitates children's verbal reports after long delays.Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied,5, 265–283. CrossRef
- Grumet, T. (1997, December). When seeing isn't believing.Popular Mechanics, pp. 98–99.
- Hyman, I. E., Jr., &Billings, F. J. (1998). Individual differences and the creation of false childhood memories.Memory,6, 1–20. CrossRef
- Hyman, I. E., Jr.,Husband, T. H., &Billings, F. J. (1995). False memories of childhood experiences.Applied Cognitive Psychology,9, 181–197. CrossRef
- Hyman, I. E., Jr., &Kleinknecht, E. E. (1999). False childhood memories. In L. M. Williams & V. L. Banyard (Eds.),Trauma and memory (pp. 178–188). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
- Hyman, I. E., Jr., &Loftus, E. F. (1998). Errors in autobiographical memory.Clinical Psychology Review,18, 933–947. CrossRef
- Hyman, I. E., Jr., &Pentland, J. (1996). The role of mental imagery in the creation of false childhood memories.Journal of Memory & Language,35, 101–117. CrossRef
- Jacoby, L. L., Kelley, C. M., &Dywan, J. (1989). Memory attributions. In H. L. Roediger III & F. I. M. Craik (Eds.),Varieties of memory and consciousness: Essays in honour of Endel Tulving (pp. 391–422). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
- Johnson, M. K. (1988). Discriminating the origin of information. In T. F. Oltmanns & B. A. Maher (Eds.),Delusional beliefs (pp. 34–65). New York: Wiley.
- Johnson, M. K., Hashtroudi, S., &Lindsay, D. S. (1993). Source monitoring.Psychological Bulletin,114, 3–28. CrossRef
- Loftus, E. F., &Pickrell, J. E. (1995). The formation of false memories.Psychiatric Annals,25, 720–725.
- Mided, J. (1998).The photographic image and the digital truth [On-line]. Available: www.users.dircon.co.uk/~migol/text/digitaltruth.html.
- Neimeyer, G. J., &Metzler, A. E. (1994). Personal identity and autobiographical recall. In U. Neisser & R. Fivush (Eds.),The remembering self: Construction and accuracy in the self-narrative (pp. 105–135). New York: Cambridge University Press. CrossRef
- Neimeyer, G. J., &Rareshide, M. B. (1991). Personal memories and personal identity: The impact of ego identity development on autobiographical memory recall.Journal of Personality & Social Psychology,60, 562–569. CrossRef
- Neisser, U., &Libby, L. K. (2000). Remembering life experiences. In E. Tulving & F. I. M. Craik (Eds.),The Oxford handbook of memory (pp. 315–332). New York: Oxford University Press.
- Novey, P. (1999). The family album.Transactional Analysis Journal,29, 149–154.
- Pezdek, K., Finger, K., &Hodge, D. (1997). Planting false childhood memories: The role of event plausibility.Psychological Science,8, 437–441. CrossRef
- Poole, D. A., Lindsay, D. S., Memon, A., &Bull, R. (1995). Psychotherapy and the recovery of memories of childhood sexual abuse: U.S. and British practitioners' opinions, practices, and experiences.Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology,63, 426–437. CrossRef
- Porter, S., Yuille, J. C., &Lehman, D. R. (1999). The nature of real, implanted and fabricated memories for emotional childhood events: Implications for the false memory debate.Law & Human Behavior,23, 517–538. CrossRef
- Weiser, J. (1990). More than meets the eye: Using ordinary snapshots as tools for therapy. In T. A. Laidlaw & C. Malmo (Eds.),Healing voices: Feminist approaches to therapy with women (pp. 83–117). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
- Yuille, J. C., Hunter, R., Joffe, R., &Zaparniuk, J. (1993). Interviewing children in sexual abuse cases. In G. S. Goodman & B. L. Bottoms (Eds.),Child victims, child witnesses: Understanding and improving testimony (pp. 95–115). New York: Guilford Press.
- A picture is worth a thousand lies: Using false photographs to create false childhood memories
Psychonomic Bulletin & Review
Volume 9, Issue 3 , pp 597-603
- Cover Date
- Print ISSN
- Online ISSN
- Additional Links