The Misinformation Effect: Transformations in Memory Induced by Postevent Information

  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
  • Hunter G. Hoffman
  • Willem A. Wagenaar

Abstract

When people encounter misleading information after they view an event, their recollection of the event is often affected (see Loftus, Miller, & Burns, 1978; Bekerian & Bowers, 1983; for examples). We refer to the change in report arising from postevent misinformation as the misinformation effect. In thinking about the impact of misinformation, it is useful to distinguish between a memory report (or what people claim to remember), and a memory trace (or what memory information is stored in the brain). Because the memory traces themselves are, obviously, never directly accessible to researchers, we must rely on memory reports to give us clues about the nature of the underlying trace.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Adams, J.A. (1967). Human memory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  2. Bartlett, F.C. (1932). Remembering: A study in experimental and social psychology. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. Bekerian, D.A., & Bowers, J.M. (1983). Eyewitness testimony: Were we misled? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 9, 139–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Belli, R.F. (1989). Influences of misleading postevent information: Misinformation interference and acceptance. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 72–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benzing, W. (1985). Betting forms: A more sensitive measure of the impact of postevent information. Honors thesis, University of Washington.Google Scholar
  6. Brainerd, C.J., & Reyna, V. F. (1988). Memory loci of suggestibility development: Comment on Ceci, Ross, and Toglia (1987). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 117, 197–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bransford, J.D., & Franks, J.J. (1971). Abstraction of linguistic ideas. Cognitive Psychology, 2, 331–350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ceci, S.J., Ross, D.F., & Toglia, M.P. (1987). Suggestibility of children’s memory: Psycholegal implications. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 116, 38–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Ceci, S.J., Toglia, M.P., & Ross, D.F. (1988). On remembering… more or less: A trace strength interpretation of developmental differences in suggestibility. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 117, 201–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Chandler, C.C. (1989). Specific retroactive interference in modified recognition tests: Evidence for an unknown cause of interference. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 15, 256–265.Google Scholar
  11. Christiaansen, R.E., & Ochalek, K. (1983). Editing misleading information from memory: Evidence for the coexistence of original and postevent information. Memory and Cognition, 11, 73–86.Google Scholar
  12. Crowder, R.F. (1976). Principles of learning and memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  13. EUREKA (1986). The solver, Macintosh, Borland International.Google Scholar
  14. Freud, S.S. (1930). Civilization and its discontents (standard edition XXI). London: Hargrath Press.Google Scholar
  15. Howe, M.L. (1991). Misleading children’s story recall: Forgetting and reminiscence of the facts. Developmental Psychology, 27, 746–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Howe, M.L., & Brainerd, C.J. (1989). Development of children’s long-term retention. Developmental Review, 9, 301–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Johnson, M.K., & Hasher, L. (1987). Human learning and memory. Annual Review of Psychology, 38, 631–668.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lindsay, D.W., & Johnson, M.K. (1987). Reality monitoring and suggestibility: Children’s ability to discriminate among memories from different sources. In S.J. Ceci, M.P. Toglia, & D.F. Ross (Eds.), Children’s eyewitness memory (pp. 92–121). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  19. Loftus, E.F. (1979). Eyewitness testimony. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Loftus, E.F., Donders, K., Hoffman, H.G., & Schooler, J.W. (1989). Creating new memories that are quickly accessed and confidently held. Memory and Cognition, 17, 607–616.Google Scholar
  21. Loftus, E.F., & Hoffman, H.G. (1989). Misinformation and memory: The creation of memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology; General, 118, 100–104.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Loftus, E.F., & Loftus, G.R. (1980). On the permanence of stored information in the human brain. American Psychologist, 35, 409–420.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Loftus, E.F., Miller, D.G., & Burns, H.J. (1978). Semantic integration of verbal information into a visual memory. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Learning and Memory, 4, 19–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Loftus, E.F., Schooler, J.W., & Wagenaar, W.A. (1985). The fate of memory: Comment on McCloskey and Zaragoza. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 114, 375–380.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. McClelland, J.L., & Rumelhart, D.E. (1985). Distributed memory and the representation of general and specific information. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 114, 159–188.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McCloskey, M., & Zaragoza, M. (1985). Misleading postevent information and memory for events: Arguments and evidence against memory impairment hypotheses. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 114, 1–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Morton, J., Hammersley, R.H., & Bekerian, D.A. (1985). Headed records: A model for memory and its failures. Cognition, 20, 1–23.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Neisser, U. (1967). Cognitive Psychology. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts.Google Scholar
  29. Squire, L.R. (1987). Memory and brain. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  30. Tulving, E. (1983). Elements of episodic memory. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Tulving, E. (1984). Precise of elements of episodic memory. Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 7, 223–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tversky, B., & Tuchin, M. (1989). A reconciliation of the evidence on eyewitness testimony: Comments on McCloskey and Zaragoza. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 86–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Wagenaar, W. (1989). The misinformation feud: Parameterized models and undeterminate differences. Unpublished manuscript, Leiden University.Google Scholar
  34. Wagenaar, W., & Boer, H. (1987). Misleading postevent information: Testing parameterized models of integration in memory. Acta Psychologica, 66, 291–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wells, G.L., & Turtle, J.W. (1987). Eyewitness testimony research: Current knowledge and emergent controversies. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science, 19, 363–388.Google Scholar
  36. Zaragoza, M.S. (1987). Memory, suggestibility, and eyewitness testimony in children and adults. In S.J. Ceci, M.P. Toglia, & D.F. Ross (Eds.) Children’s eyewitness memory (pp. 53–78). New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  37. Zaragoza, M.S., & McCloskey, M. (1989). Misleading postevent information and the memory impairment hypothesis: Comment on Belli (1989) and reply to Tversky and Tuchin (1989). Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 118, 92–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Zaragoza, M.S., McCloskey, M., & Jamis, M. (1987). Misleading postevent information and recall of the original event: Further evidence against the memory impairment hypothesis. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 13, 36–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York, Inc. 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth F. Loftus
  • Hunter G. Hoffman
  • Willem A. Wagenaar

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations