I have read an interesting blog post by a psychiatrist called David Allen and its called More Baloney about Implanting False Memories. It critiques an experiment that sets a young person up to be´implanted`.
Allen writes that this experiment, where a researcher gives a student being interviewed deliberately false information about their childhood, and also tells the student that they have been given this information by the parents of the student, puts the student in a very difficult situation. They are forced to chose between their own memories and loyalty to their parents. This loyalty conflict is not accounted for in the research. Allen writes:-
The experimenter has now put the subject in the position of calling her parents liars! If they are generally truthful, hearing that they reported something that seems completely alien to her whole personality will at the very least introduce cognitive dissonance and self doubt. I mean, why would her parents make up something like that? This self doubt is clearly manifested in the patient’s facial expressions and tone of voice as she says the things she says in the film.
However, even if the parents were notorious for being fast and loose with the truth or made a habit of blaming the subject for things that were not her fault (a not uncommon feature in dysfunctional families), due to family loyalty the patient might still become motivated to protect her parents’ reputation to the experimenter and perhaps also to save herself from an argument with the parents later on.
You can read the rest of Allen’s blog post article here
Bernice Andrews ( who I have cited earlier in this blog ) and Chris Brewin are the two British research psychologists who have previously published the most thorough critiques of the the claims of the UK false memory movement.
Now they have collaborated in an article that reviews three major paradigms used by false memory researchers.
( Whilst I am sceptical of the word paradigm being used to categorise what I see as essentially a form of disinformation, I recognise the reasons for why the Brewin and Andrews have used the word, and the importance of their critique.)
Here is the abstract to their article .
Using a framework that distinguishes autobiographical belief, recollective experience, and confidence in memory, we review three major paradigms used to suggest false childhood events to adults: imagination inflation, false feedback and memory implantation. Imagination inflation and false feedback studies increase the belief that a suggested event occurred by a small amount such that events are still thought unlikely to have happened. In memory implantation studies, some recollective experience for the suggested events is induced on average in 47% of participants, but only in 15% are these experiences likely to be rated as full memories. We conclude that susceptibility to false memories of childhood events appears more limited than has been suggested. The data emphasise the complex judgements involved in distinguishing real from imaginary recollections and caution against accepting investigator-based ratings as necessarily corresponding to participants’ self-reports. Recommendations are made for presenting the results of these studies in courtroom settings.
You can read the rest of the article here. At the moment it is free to access online ( Thank you! ) However if it is not accessible for free in the future I have copied at pasted it on this page.