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Illusions of Memory and Loss of Justice. Elizabeth F. Loftus University of California, Irvine Sackler Colloquium on Forensic Science National Academy of Sciences November, 2005 . The Last Decade. DNA exonerations & Eyewitness Testimony. Innocence Project. As of November 2005:

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illusions of memory and loss of justice

Illusions of Memory and Loss of Justice

Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine

Sackler Colloquium on Forensic Science

National Academy of Sciences

November, 2005

the last decade
The Last Decade

DNA exonerations & Eyewitness Testimony

innocence project
Innocence Project

As of November 2005:

-- 163 DNA exonerations

-- eyewitness errors in about 75% of cases

-- “Eyewitness error remains the single most important cause of wrongful imprisonment.”

http://www.innocenceproject.org/

slide4
Dennis Brown

Convicted: l984 of Rape, Burglary in Louisiana

Sentence: Life

Exoneration: 2005, after serving l9 years.

Cause: Mistaken ID & false

confession

the last decade5
The Last Decade

DNA exonerations & Eyewitness testimony

Repressed Memory Accusations

slide7
“Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, or whatever it is you think you remember?”
slide8
Research on Memory Distortion

Changing Memory for Actual Events

research on memory distortion
Research on Memory Distortion

The Misinformation Effect

research on memory distortion10
Research on Memory Distortion

Planting entirely false memories

memory implantation
Memory Implantation

When you were about ten, your family went for a camping trip to Totoranui for two weeks with Gill and her family, John and Liz, and your grandparents. You made a lot of friends at the campsite, and spent most of the time with them and Bevan.

When you were about four, your family went for a tramp at Smith’s creek near Kaitoke. Ben’s friend Sisko also went with you. You set up tents by the river, and while you were there you swam in the river, and cooked pancakes over the fire.

You, your mom, and your brother went to Kmart. You were 5 years old. Your mom gave each of you some money to get a blueberry Icee. You ran ahead to get into the line first, and lost your way in the store. Your mom found you crying to an elderly woman.

When you were about four years old, and Dan was about seven, your family went for a trip to Christchurch, to your Uncle John’s wedding. After the service you walked to the Avon river where the bride and groom rode a gondola down to the reception.

Event 1

Event 2

Event 3

Event 4

False Memory Rate: 25%

Loftus & Pickrell, 1995

more planted memories
More Planted Memories
  • Overnight hospitalization (Hyman: 20%)
  • Accident at Wedding (Hyman: 25%)
  • Serious animal attackUBC: 26% com 30% par
  • Rescued by lifeguard(Tenn: Heaps & Nash) - 37%
high tech planted memories
High Tech Planted Memories
  • Hot Air Balloon Ride
  • Wade, Garry, Read & Lindsay
other ways to plant false memories
Other Ways to Plant False Memories
  • Imagination
  • Dream Interpretation
  • Exposure to stories of others
  • False feedback
memories of bugs
Memories of Bugs
  • Shook his hand 62%
  • Hugged him 46%
  • Touched his ear 23%
  • Touched his tail 23%
  • Heard “What’s up doc.” 23%
  • Holding a carrot n = 1
hugged by bugs yes but molested by mickey

Hugged by Bugs? Yesbut Molested by Mickey?

Berkowitz, Laney, Morris & Loftus – WPA 2005

slide25
False Feedback:

Bad Newspaper Article

ANAHEIM, California (AP) Last Tuesday, the Disneyland Resort released file records of all employees who violated the employee code of conduct during the 1980’s and 1990’s. …The man dressed up as the Disney character Pluto. The employee… had abused hallucinogenic drugs, while on the clock for Disney. As a result, the Pluto character apparently developed a habit of inappropriately licking the ears of many young visitors with his large fabric tongue. Records show that Pluto’s disturbing behavior went largely unnoticed by management for several years… In one of the last visitor complaints, a parent stated, “It was obvious that my son was uncomfortable with Pluto’s persistent licking….”

believers
Definition

Positive movement from Session 1 to Session 2; report memory or belief on final questionnaire

Bad Condition – 15%

Good Condition – 29%

Believers
disneyland questionnaire you had your ear licked by pluto conservative definition
Disneyland Questionnaire: You had your ear licked by Pluto (conservative definition)

Conservative Believers and Controls All Subjects

1 = “Definitely did not happen”

8 = “Definitely did happen”

disneyland questionnaire consequences

Disneyland Questionnaire - Consequences

What is the most you are willing to pay for each of the following Disney souvenirs?

11. Disneyland postcard Nothing 25¢ 50¢ 75¢ $1 $1.25 $1.50 $2

12. Keychain Nothing $1 $2 $3 $4 $5 $6 $7

13. Mickey Mouse magnet Nothing $1 $2 $3 $4 $5 $6 $7

14. Donald Duck coffee mug Nothing $2 $4 $6 $8 $10 $12 $14

15. Pluto stuffed animal Nothing $5 $10 $15 $20 $25 $30 $35

16. Winnie the Pooh t-shirt Nothing $5 $10 $15 $20 $25 $30 $40

17. Tigger boxer shorts Nothing $5 $10 $15 $20 $25 $30 $40

consequences willingness to pay for a pluto stuffed animal
Consequences - Willingness to pay for a Pluto Stuffed Animal

Conservative Believers and Controls All Subjects

slide30
'Tigger' arrested on molestation charges

Costumed character at Disney World charged with fondling girl, mother.

Orange County Sheriff's Office investigators have arrested a Walt Disney World employee who worked as the character "Tigger" and charged him with molesting a 13-year-old girl and her mother while posing with them for pictures in February.Michael Chartrand, 36, was charged with one count of lewd and lascivious molestation of a child between 12 and 15 years old and one count of simple battery.He was booked into the Orange County Jail today on a $2,500 bond.A Disney spokeswoman said Chartrand has been suspended without pay.The sheriff's office received a complaint that a costumed character at Disney World had touched a girl and her mother inappropriately while their pictures were being taken with the character Feb. 21. According to an incident report, Chartrand fondled the breasts of the girl and the mother while posing for pictures at the Magic Kingdom's Toon Town."As the photo was being taken, [the victim] claims that Tigger moved his right hand up to her right breast and started massaging it several times," the incident report states. [The victim] became very embarrassed and ashamed of the incident and claims that she did not say anything to her mother until they left the park."Later, the girl learned that the costumed character had done the same thing to her mother with his left hand, the report says.In a charging affadavit filed in court, police wrote that Chartrand told them he had trouble remembering things, but was "very sorry for everything that had occurred," and hoped the victim would forgive him for what he had done.The girl and her father reported the incident on Feb. 29.

"As the photo was being taken, [the victim] claims that Tigger moved his right hand up to her right breast and started massaging

it several times," the incident report states. [The victim] became very embarrassed and ashamed of the incident and claims that she did not say anything to her mother until they left the park."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

slide33
Profile for: Alan Alda

After you sent the completed personality and food questionnaires to us, we entered your data into a computer and generated a profile of your early childhood experiences with certain foods. From the data you provided, the computer generated the following profile.

As a young child:

1) you disliked spinach

 2) you enjoyed fried foods

3) you felt sick after eating hard-boiled eggs

  4) eating chocolate birthday cake made you happy

consequences party behavior39
Consequences: Party Behavior

Post-test data only

slide40
The Mental Diet

Think you like ice cream? Let me tell you a story

As every weight-loss veteran knows -- and too many parents of overweight kids are learning--the most fattening foods are often the most comforting, conjuring up memories of sweet treats and celebrations. That's why there was so much interest last week in a report out of the University of California, Irvine that suggests a new approach to thinking about food: brainwashing.

Or, as Elizabeth Loftus prefers to call it, planting false memories. Loftus is famous in psychological circles for her controversial work investigating claims of child and sexual abuse. She was able to show that people can be persuaded to remember terrible things that never happened. Could the same power of suggestion change a dieter's appetite?

To test that thesis, Loftus and her assistants gave 131 students a questionnaire about their food preferences and experiences. Members of one group were told, falsely, that at some point in their childhood strawberry ice cream had made them sick. The researchers then encouraged the students to elaborate, asking them where they were when they got sick and who else witnessed the episode. When questioned later about which foods they wanted to eat, 41% of this group said they would avoid strawberry ice cream.

"What we've shown is that we can plant a false belief or memory, and that has consequences in terms of what we choose to eat," says Loftus. She showed similar results in the vegetable section of the food pyramid, giving people a taste for asparagus by conning them into thinking that they liked it as children.

Would a mind-over-matter diet really work? Loftus doesn't know yet; she's still trying to figure out how long these effects last. But, she says, "nothing would stop a parent of an overweight child from trying this out on their kid"--as long as parents don't expect miracles. Weight control, after all, involves a devilishly complex combination of genes, biology and the environment. But every little bit helps when you are dieting--even the power of suggestion.

From the Aug. 15, 2005 issue of TIME magazine

“Would a mind-over-matter diet really work? Loftus doesn't know yet; she's still trying to figure out how long these effects last. But, she says, "nothing would stop a parent of an overweight child from trying this out on their kid"--as long as parents don't expect miracles. Weight control, after all, involves a devilishly complex combination of genes, biology and the environment. But every little bit helps when you are dieting--even the power of suggestion.”

8/ l5/05

implications
Implications
  • Theoretical: Learning about the malleable nature of memory
  • Practical: Nutritional selection, Legal cases
slide43
Rule 1. Who conducts the lineup.

The person who conducts the lineup or photospread should not know which member of the lineup or photospread is the suspect.

slide44
Rule 2. Instructions on viewing.

Eyewitnesses should be told explicitly that the person in question might not be in the lineup or photospread and, therefore, should not feel that they must make an identification.They should also be told that the person administering the lineup does not know which person is the suspect in the case.

slide45
Rule 3. Structure of lineup or photospread.

The suspect should not stand out in the lineup or photospread as being different from the distractors based on the eyewitness’s previous description of the culprit or based on other factors that would draw extra attention to the suspect

implications46
Implications

Practical:

  • Repressed Memory Cases
  • Repressed Memory Legislation?
slide47
That’s all folks!

For More Articles and Information, visit my UCI website:

www.seweb.uci.edu/faculty/loftus/

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