Brief Introduction

Loftus conducted a study on how false memories are developed in a person’s mind. There was a total of 24 candidates 3 males and 21 females. Each of the candidates was selected by the students of the University of Washington. Each student selected a pair of individuals, which consisted of a subject and his or her family member. The partners consisted of parent child pairs or sibling pairs and the youngest member of the pair was at least 18 years old. The family member of the pair had to have a sound knowledge about the subject’s childhood experiences, who is the youngest member of the pair.


Subjects were mailed a five-page booklet which consisted of a cover letter with instructions for completing the booklet and the scheduled interviews. In the booklet, there are four short stories in total, out of which three are true and one is false. The false story is about getting lost, and the true short stories consist of incidents which occurred in the subject’s childhood provided by the older relative. The sequence of the stories in the booklet and the interview was same, with the false story about getting lost in the third position. Each of the short stories was defined in a single paragraph at the top of the page, and the rest of the page was left blank for the subject to note down in details of his or her memory.

An example of the false memory paragraph is one formed for a 20-year-old Vietnamese-American woman who was brought up in Washington. The short false story goes as following “You, your mom Tien and Tuan all went to the Bremerton K-Mart. You must have been five years old at that time. Your Mom gave each of you some money to get a blueberry ICEE. You ran ahead to get into the line first and somehow lost your way in the store. Tien found you crying to an elderly Chinese woman. You three then went together to get an ICEE.” (Loftus 1995)

Further detail

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