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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

Lost In the Mall by Elizabeth Loftus

Tucker Bryant & Ellis Schirmer

theory hypothesis
Theory & Hypothesis
  • The act of imagining false events led to the creation of false memories.

Confabulations can be created through suggestions.

research design procedure
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
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.
ethical issues
  • Participant manipulation
  • Potential for clinical misuse
  • Nadean Cool Had memories planted by psychiatrist
  • Undisclosed aim
ecological validity
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
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
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