The Malleability of Memory
View the video on Elizabeth Loftus and discuss memory
Students need to contribute two substantive posts in this discussion by the due date indicated. The substantive posts must include initial responses and replies to classmates &/or Professor.
Loftus (2011) argues that the main reason for wrongful convictions is faulty memory. In my undergrad course, I took a class on Forensic Psychology, that touched on this topic quite often. The name Loftus sounds familiar in connection with the class, but I do not remember it completely, or have I created that memory? (lol). So from what I learned in that class and from this video is that eyewitness testimony is hardly accurate but is used so often as a major piece of evidence against individuals. Without even including the questionable practices by the police, our memory of situations just simply isn’t as good as we perceive.
In the question and answer portion of the video, Loftus is asked “Is there any research used to prove the validity of an eyewitness’ statement involved in a legal case?”
Her response: “There are studies being conducted to see if there is anything that can tell the difference between true memories and false memories.” Examples such as behavior analysis during the recollection of both types of memory, and neuro-imaging (fmri) were mentioned. Loftus (2011) stated that some studies were able to see some differences between the brain activities associated with false and true memories but went on to finish,
“The problem, we are just a long long way from being able to take a single memory and accurately classify it based on these criteria… just because it’s detailed and just because a person is confident about it and just because they express it with emotion doesn’t mean it really happened because false memories can have those characteristics too.”
What’s so incredible interesting and frightening is that it can be argued that some of our most cherished or terrible memories might be at least a little bit fabricated, which wouldn’t be anyone’s fault really. Memories can be implanted, for example: I’m sure there are many memories from my childhood that I have but were simply just told to me a bunch.
Loftus, E. (2011, June 14). Loftus Speaks: The Malleability of Memory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://fod-infobase-com.eu1.proxy.openathens.net/p_ViewVideo.aspx?xtid=41313
worth of research on the subject of false memories to discuss how memory does and does not work. She argues that memory has been conceived to work by a store and recall process, but in actuality, memory is more like a Wikipedia page wherein the individual and others can step in and change the script of the memories. Memories are constructed and deconstructed and just because someone says with conviction and emotion that things occurred one way does not mean that they did. She highlights the case of Steven Titus, a young man who was wrongfully convicted of rape. One evening Titus and his fiancee were pulled over by the police after enjoying an evening out. Titus somewhat resembled the description of a person believed to have committed a rape in the area. The victim stated that Titus was the person who most closely looked like the perpetrator. Based on this information, the police department and prosecutor charged Titus with the rape. During the trial, the victim altered her statement and said that she was absolutely certain that Titus had raped her. He was subsequently convicted of the crime. Titus professed his innocence and sought the assistance of an investigative journalist who located the actual perpetrator of the crime. This case inspired Loftus to focus her attention on false memories and devised numerous studies to test how false memories can be implanted and their effects on behavior.
Loftus, E. [Elizabethloftus]. (2013, September 23). How reliable is your memory? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PB2OegI6wvI
In the Elizabeth Loftus video interesting things that stood out to me regarding memory this that memory problems are quite normal. In the beginning of the video it spoke about Hillary Clinton’s arrival in Bosnia and what she remembered. Her visual from the trip was quite different from the view that was filmed. This lead researchers to believe that Hillary Clinton was a liar, because the memory that she spoke about did not match the pictures and videos that were captured. My question is, does this really make a person a liar? Because my details are different from the next person, does that honestly make them a liar, or do they have different views of the world?
Something else that stood out to me in the video is that Elizabeth Loftus mentioned that when she works on legal cases, memory does matter. I totally agree because evidence, victims, and witness need someone that can remember the absolute truth of what took place in order to find the verdict in cases. I’ve seen where people’s memory could hurt cases (victims aren’t brought the justice they need) or perpetrators aren’t found guilty because the witness can not remember a description or break down of what happened the day of the crime. In court Defense Attorney’s have a role of questioning the defendant and other witnesses, but in any situation I feel if the person doesn’t remember what happened, the courts should leave it at that, and not attempt to make them remember and force them to provide false information.
“Loftus Speaks: The Malleability of Memory.” Films Media Group, 2009, fod.infobase.com/PortalPlaylists.aspx?wID=18566&xtid=41313. Accessed 8 Aug. 2019.