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Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.

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32nd Annual Convention; Atlanta, GA; 2006

Event Details

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Special Event #70
Presidential Scholar's Address: What's the Matter with Memory?
Saturday, May 27, 2006
4:30 PM–5:20 PM
Centennial Ballroom I & II
Chair: Frances K. McSweeney (Washington State University)
Presidential Scholar's Address: What's the Matter with Memory?
ELIZABETH LOFTUS (University of California, Irvine)
Elizabeth Loftus is Distinguished Professor at the University of California - Irvine. She holds faculty positions in both Criminology, Law & Society and in Psychology and Social Behavior. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University. Since then, she has published 20 books and over 400 scientific articles. Loftus's research of the last 30 years has focused on human memory, eyewitness testimony and also on courtroom procedure. She has shown that human memory is highly malleable; Details can be altered, and entire events can be planted into people's memories. These findings have important implications for the legal system and its use of memory as evidence. She has been recognized for this research with five honorary doctorates and election to the National Academy of Sciences. She has served as President of the American Psychological Society, and twice as President of the Western Psychological Association.
Abstract: Suggestion can distort memory and also make people believe that they had experiences that they didn't have. People have been led to remember nonexistent events from the recent past as well as non-existent events from their childhood. They can be led to falsely believe that they have had familiar experiences, but also rather bizarre or implausible ones. They can be led to believe that they did things that would have been impossible (e.g., shaking hands with Bugs Bunny during a trip to Disneyland). They can be led to falsely believe that they had experiences that would have been highly traumatic had they actually happened. False beliefs have consequences for people, affecting later thoughts, intentions, and behaviors. For example, people who are led to believe that as children they got sick eating particular foods show avoidance of those foods later on. If false memories can be so readily planted in the mind, what does it say about the nature of memory?
 
 

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