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Lost In the Mall by Elizabeth Loftus PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Lost In the Mall by Elizabeth Loftus. Tucker Bryant & Ellis Schirmer. Theory & Hypothesis. The act of imagining false events led to the creation of false memories. Confabulations can be created through suggestions. Research design & procedure.

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Lost In the Mall by Elizabeth Loftus

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Lost In the Mall by Elizabeth Loftus

Tucker Bryant & Ellis Schirmer

Theory & Hypothesis

  • The act of imagining false events led to the creation of false memories.

    Confabulations can be created through suggestions.

Research design & procedure

  • Asked 24 individuals, ranging from 18 to 53, to try to remember childhood events that had been recounted by a relative.

  • Prepared a booklet for each participant containing one-paragraph stories about three events that had actually happened to them, and one that had not.

  • Reconstructed the false event using information about a shopping trip provided by relatives, who verified that participant had in fact been lost at about the age of five.

  • The lost-in-mall scenario included: lost for a time period, crying, aid and comfort by an elderly woman, and reunion with family.

The results

  • 25% of the participants remembered the fictious event. ( 6 out of 24)

  • The study provides evidence that people can be led to remember their past in different ways, and they can even be coaxed into “remembering” entire events that never happened.


  • Participant manipulation

  • Potential for clinical misuse

  • Nadean Cool Had memories planted by psychiatrist

  • Undisclosed aim

Ecological Validity

  • Lab experiment =slightly impaired

  • No risk of demand characteristics

  • Focus on cognition leaves little room for ecological application




Demonstrates cause & effect relationship

Supports hypothesis

Serves as evidence to further conclusions

Permits objectivity and unbiased observations

Uses a wide sample of ages

Good use of operationalization prevents observer bias


Social facilitation

Extraneous variables; personality

Ethical issues with potential application

Has been used to draw certain wild conclusions

May be situation-specific

Survey may be biased by the way questions are asked

Possible sampling bias


Could this study be done today?

  • Replication of exact study is feasible

  • Many replications and variations performed to date

  • Most studies demonstrate similar conclusions/evidence

  • Certain variations pose potential ethical breaches

  • Experiment is fairly recent – 1991

What makes this a classic study?

  • Verifies inference most people tend to make or refute

  • Demonstrates awesome power of subconscious

  • Uses power of suggestion

  • Proves the human tendency to confabulate

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