Elizabeth F Loftus

Elizabeth F Loftus
University of California, Irvine | UCI · Psychology & Social Behavior; Criminology, Law & Society; School of Law

Ph.D, Stanford University; B.A., UCLA

About

403
Publications
512,454
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31,157
Citations
Introduction
Skills and Expertise
Additional affiliations
July 2002 - present
University of California, Irvine
Position
  • Professor (Full)
July 1973 - July 2002
University of Washington Seattle
Position
  • Professor

Publications

Publications (403)
Article
Full-text available
Ross (in press) argued that false memory researchers misunderstand the concepts of repression and dissociation, as well as the writings of Freud. In this commentary, we show that Ross is wrong. He oversimplifies and misrepresents the literature on repressed and false memory. We rebut Ross by showing the fallacies underlying his arguments. For examp...
Article
Restudying word lists (e.g., dream, awake, and bed) strengthens true memory of the studied words and reduces false memory for unstudied but semantically related lures (e.g., sleep). Yet, the neural mechanisms involved in this repetition effect on false memory remain unclear. Possible mechanisms involve item-specific and semantic neural representati...
Article
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Eyewitness misidentifications are almost always made with high confidence in the courtroom. The courtroom is where eyewitnesses make their last identification of defendants suspected of (and charged with) committing a crime. But what did those same eyewitnesses do on the first identification test, conducted early in a police investigation? Despite...
Article
Wixted et al. (in press Wixted, J. T., Mickes, L., Brewin, C. R., & Andrews, B. (in press). Doing right by the eyewitness evidence: A response to Berkowitz et al. Memory.[Web of Science ®] , [Google Scholar]. Doing right by the eyewitness evidence: A response to Berkowitz et al. Memory) remind us that they are aware of some conditions in which conf...
Article
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Based on converging research, we concluded that the controversial topic of unconscious blockage of psychological trauma –i.e., repressed memory- remains very much alive in clinical, legal, and academic contexts (Otgaar et al., 2019). In his commentary, Brewin (in press) conducted a co-citation analysis and concluded that scholars do not adhere to t...
Article
Eyewitness memory researchers have recently devoted considerable attention to eyewitness confidence. While there is strong consensus that courtroom confidence is problematic, we now recognise that an eyewitness’s initial confidence in their first identification – in certain contexts – can be of value. A few psychological scientists, however, have c...
Article
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We show that, in contrast to Brewin, Li, Ntarantana, Unsowrth, and McNeilis (2019), large proportions of laypersons believe in the scientifically controversial phenomenon of unconscious repressed memories. We provide new survey data showing that when participants are asked specific questions about what they mean when they report that traumatic memo...
Article
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With the growing global acceptance of cannabis and its widespread use by eyewitnesses and suspects in legal cases, understanding the popular drug’s ramifications for memory is a pressing need. In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial, we examined the acute and delayed effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) intoxication on susceptib...
Article
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What does believing in repressed memory mean? In a recent paper in this journal, Brewin, Li, Ntarantana, Unsworth, and McNeilis (in press; Study 3) argued that when people are asked to indicate their belief in repressed memory, they actually think of deliberate memory suppression rather than unconscious repressed memory. They further argued that in...
Article
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Can purely psychological trauma lead to a complete blockage of autobiographical memories? This longstanding question about the existence of repressed memories has been at the heart of one of the most heated debates in modern psychology. These so-called memory wars originated in the 1990s and many scholars have assumed that they are over. We demonst...
Article
Decades of research show that people are susceptible to developing false memories. But if they do so in one task, are they likely to do so in a different one? The answer: “No”. In the current research, a large number of participants took part in three well-established false memory paradigms (a misinformation task, the Deese-Roediger-McDermott [DRM]...
Article
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Theoretical and computational models such as transfer-appropriate processing (TAP) and global matching models have emphasized the encoding–retrieval interaction of memory representations in generating false memories, but relevant neural mechanisms are still poorly understood. By manipulating the sensory modalities (visual and auditory) at different...
Article
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What we believe about how memory works affects the decisions we make in many aspects of life. In Patihis, Ho et al. [Patihis, L., Ho, L. Y., Tingen, I. W., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Loftus, E. F. (2014). Are the “memory wars” over? A scientist–practitioner gap in beliefs about repressed memory. Psychological Science, 25, 519–530.], we documented several...
Chapter
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False memory is an active and dynamic research area. This chapter discusses some of the most recent advances in theory, methodology, and application, as well as recent findings. Recent work has reinterpreted false memory through lenses of evolutionary psychology, pre‐ and postgoal emotions, and persuasion. New findings include false memories caused...
Article
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Several laboratory techniques have been developed over the last few decades that reliably produce memory distortions. However, it is unclear whether false memory production in one experimental paradigm will predict susceptibility to false memories in other paradigms. In Experiment 1, 202 undergraduates participated in a misinformation experiment an...
Article
The current study explored the intellectual factors in false memories of 139 patients with schizophrenia, using a recognition task and an IQ test. The full-scale IQ score of the participants ranged from 57 to 144 (M = 100, SD = 14). The full IQ score had a negative correlation with false recognition in patients with schizophrenia, and positive corr...
Article
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Brewin and Andrews (2016) propose that just 15% of people, or even fewer, are susceptible to false childhood memories. If this figure were true, then false memories would still be a serious problem. But the figure is higher than 15%. False memories occur even after a few short and low-pressure interviews, and with each successive interview they bec...
Article
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There is a keen interest in identifying specific brain regions that are related to individual differences in true and false memories. Previous functional neuroimaging studies showed that activities in the hippocampus, right fusiform gyrus, and parahippocampal gyrus were associated with true and false memories, but no study thus far has examined whe...
Article
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False confession is a major contributor to the problem of wrongful convictions in the United States. Here, we provide direct evidence linking sleep deprivation and false confessions. In a procedure adapted from Kassin and Kiechel [(1996) Psychol Sci 7(3):125-128], participants completed computer tasks across multiple sessions and repeatedly receive...
Article
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Elaborating on misleading information concerning emotional events can lead people to form false memories. The present experiment compared participants' susceptibility to false memories when they elaborated on information associated with positive versus negative emotion and pregoal versus postgoal emotion. Pregoal emotion reflects appraisals that go...
Chapter
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When a person, whether a child or an adult, makes an accusation of sexual abuse (or is suspected of being a victim in the absence of a specific accusation), forensic interviews are used to explore what really happened. The history of interviews of abuse victims (and purported victims) is complicated, and this history has led directly to many of the...
Article
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Article
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Emotional memories are vivid and lasting but not necessarily accurate. Under some conditions, emotion even increases people’s susceptibility to false memories. This review addresses when and why emotion leaves people vulnerable to misremembering events. Recent research suggests that pregoal emotions—those experienced before goal attainment or failu...
Article
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Previous crashing memory studies have shown that adults can be led to believe they witnessed video footage of news events for which no video footage actually exists. The current study is the first to investigate adults' tendency to report memories of viewing footage that took place when they were children: the plane crash in Pennsylvania on 11 Sept...
Conference Paper
This presentation will provide an overview of our current understandings of how memories are formed, modified, and retrieved, as well as some of the most important continuing uncertainties. It will take a particularly deep look at the process of creating false memories.
Article
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Do you have many regrets from last year? To answer that question, you might start searching your memory and accumulating evidence. But your answer might not depend on how many regrets you remember. Instead, it might depend on how easy it feels to remember them. People often think that they have a larger pool of experiences to sample from when remem...
Article
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Brewin and Andrews’s (2014) Commentary on our article (Patihis, Ho, Tingen, Lilienfeld, & Loftus, 2014) raises several thoughtful points with which we largely agree, but presents several criticisms that we do not believe withstand careful scrutiny. We respond briefly.
Article
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Many studies have investigated factors that affect susceptibility to false memories. However, few have investigated the role of sleep deprivation in the formation of false memories, despite overwhelming evidence that sleep deprivation impairs cognitive function. We examined the relationship between self-reported sleep duration and false memories an...
Article
Patihis, L., Ho, L. Y., Tingen, I. W., Lilienfeld, S. O., & Loftus, E. F. (2014). Are the “memory wars” over? A scientist-practitioner gap in beliefs about repressed memory. Psychological Science, 25, 519–530. (Original DOI: 10.1177/0956797613510718 )
Article
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Dalenberg et al. (2012) argued that convincing evidence (a) supports the longstanding trauma model (TM), which posits that early trauma plays a key role in the genesis of dissociation; and (b) refutes the fantasy model (FM), which posits that fantasy proneness, suggestibility, cognitive failures, and other variables foster dissociation. We review e...
Article
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The "memory wars" of the 1990s refers to the controversy between some clinicians and memory scientists about the reliability of repressed memories. To investigate whether such disagreement persists, we compared various groups' beliefs about memory and compared their current beliefs with beliefs expressed in past studies. In Study 1, we found high r...
Article
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ABSTRACT� How can you tell if a particular memory,belonging to you or someone,else is true or false? Cognitive scientists use a variety of techniques to measure groups of memories, whereas police, lawyers, and other researchers use procedures to determine whether an individual can be believed or not. We discuss evidence from behavioral and neuroima...
Article
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Laypeople, police, and prosecutors tend to believe that a suspect’s alibi, if truthful, should remain consistent over time (see Burke, Turtle, & Olson, 2007; Culhane & Hosch 2012; Dysart & Strange, 2012). However, there is no empirical evidence to support this assumption. We investigated (a) whether some features of an alibi—such as what was happen...
Article
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The recent identification of highly superior autobiographical memory (HSAM) raised the possibility that there may be individuals who are immune to memory distortions. We measured HSAM participants' and age- and sex-matched controls' susceptibility to false memories using several research paradigms. HSAM participants and controls were both susceptib...
Article
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In two experiments subjects saw slides of people behaving. Afterward some subjects were asked questions suggesting that a particular person had done something that was actually done by someone else. The effect of these leading questions was to increase the likelihood that a person was recalled as having committed an act that he did not commit.
Article
False sexual abuse allegations have spurred research on suggestibility, on the assumption that leading questions may produce false accusations. Most researchers, however, have not measured the likelihood that those who respond to suggestive questioning will take the next step and make a formal (false) accusation. The present study incorporates both...
Article
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Presents data on error rates in eyewitness identification performance and examines new sources of contamination in eyewitness memory resulting from increased use of social media among witnesses
Article
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In the last few years, substantial gains have been made in our understanding of human memory errors and the phenomenon of false memory, wherein individuals remember entire events that did not happen at all. Research had established that false memories can be consequential and emotional, that they can last for long periods of time, and that they are...
Article
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Subjects viewed a series of color slides of natural outdoor scenes under one of three instructions: (1) One group was given a standard intentional learning instruction (a “deep” task).(2) Another group estimated the percentage of the slide taken up by sky (a “shallow” task).(3) A third group contemplated the meaning of life while viewing the slides...
Article
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It was in 1988 that a Pan Am flight blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people. A Libyan named Al-Megrahi was convicted of the crime. His conviction was based in large part on the testimony of a single eyewitness, a shopkeeper who identified him as the person who had purchased clothing allegedly packed in the suitcase that contained the e...
Article
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This research investigated the relationship between false memories induced by two different paradigms (misinformation and Deese-Roediger-McDermott [DRM]). The misinformation effect refers to the phenomenon that a person's recollection of a witnessed event can be altered after exposure to misleading information about the event. DRM false memory repr...
Article
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A recent decision in the United States by the New Jersey Supreme Court has led to improved jury instructions that incorporate psychological research showing that memory does not operate like a video recording. Here we consider how cognitive neuroscience could contribute to addressing memory in the courtroom. We discuss conditions in which neuroimag...
Article
In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three true and one of five fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic image purportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the false event happened, with 27% remem...
Article
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This chapter considers the issue of whether the legal system assumes greater accuracy in the production and assessment of eyewitness identifications than the limits of cognition reasonably permit. It first reviews what is known about the limits of accuracy in eyewitness performance under optimal conditions, and the ease with which this maximum perf...
Article
A large body of research has demonstrated that exposure to misinformation can lead to distortions in human memory for genuinely experienced objects or people. The current study examined whether misinformation could affect memory for a recently experienced, personally relevant, highly stressful event. In the present study we assessed the impact of m...
Article
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For much of this century, psychological scientists have been investigating how and why memory fails. The studies explore not only the loss or inaccessibility of memories, but also the creation of new, particularly false or distorted memories. Topics include: studying memory failure; planting memories through parental suggestion; imagination infla...
Article
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Of all the higher mental processes, memory ranks up there as one of the most crucial. It helps us do rudimentary tasks such as turning on the toaster in the morning, grinding our coffee and meeting a friend at the right time. But it also helps us do more sophisticated things too: like solving complex problems, feeling love, reminiscing with family...
Article
On the first day of April of 2012, an interesting trial took place in Wells County, exactly 103 years after the famous trial described by Wigmore (1909). The defendant, D, was charged with brutally stabbing a homeless man just after midnight on New Year’s Day. Before the police arrived on the crime scene, the perpetrator, rushing to flee the scene,...
Article
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Confidence and accuracy, while often considered to tap the same memory representation, are often found to be only weakly correlated (e.g., Bothwell, Deffenbacher, & Brigham, 1987; Deffenbacher, 1980). There are at least two possible (nonexclusive) reasons for this weak relation. First, it may be simply due to noise of one sort or another; that is,...
Article
Do false memories last? And do they last as long as true ones? This study investigated whether experimentally created false memories would persist for an extended period (one and a half years). A large number of subjects (N = 342) participated in a standard three-stage misinformation procedure (saw the event slides, read the narrations with misinfo...
Article
Are claims more credible when made by multiple sources, or is it the repetition of claims that matters? Some research suggests that claims have more credibility when independent sources make them. Yet, other research suggests that simply repeating information makes it more accessible and encourages reliance on automatic processes-factors known to c...
Article
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It is widely understood among scientists and criminal and civil lawyers that eyewitnesses are often inaccurate, and that inaccurate information can contaminate memories of other eyewitnesses. It is less widely known—although no less true—that when misleading claims are repeated, they are more likely to damage other people’s memories than when those...
Article
The beliefs that people have about memory and how it works drive the way in which they remember as well as the decisions that they make when judging other people's memories. This chapter challenges the notion that memory is permanent by presenting evidence that when people remember experiences, they often incorporate new information or interpret th...
Article
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The gathering of information for intelligence purposes often comes from interviewing a variety of individuals. Some, like suspects and captured prisoners, are individuals for whom the stakes are especially high and who might not be particularly cooperative. But information is also gathered from myriad individuals who have relevant facts to provide,...
Article
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This chapter presents a model of autobiographical belief formation.
Article
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A growing body of work shows how easy it is to manipulate memory for past events. In this chapter, we review recent research on false memories that can be planted about a non-existent past experience with a particular food or alcohol. These false memories have consequences for people; if the false memory is unpleasant, people avoid the food or drin...
Article
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This essay recounts a Cognitive Psychologist’s cognitions on Law and Social Science. A question-answer format is used to illustrate some of the experiences of one psychological scientist who was active in the development of the new University of California-Irvine School of Law.
Article
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Eyewitnesses are often called upon to report information about what they have seen. A wealth of research from the past century has demonstrated, however, that eyewitness memory is malleable and vulnerable to distorting influences, including the effects of misinformation. In this article, we review recent developments in research related to the misi...
Article
We explored how consistent individuals are over time in their recall of the reasons why they engaged in a past behaviour. The study was inspired by a research survey submitted in a copyright infringement case. Study participants listed the reasons why they acquired a particular CD, and repeated the survey several months later. We assessed the consi...
Chapter
Consumer judgement and decision making is guided by phenomenological experiences (Whittlesea, 1997), also called ‘non- emotional feelings’ (Clore, 1992) associated with cognitions. These feelings, such as certainty, surprise, and confusion, are considered non- emotional because they are feelings associated with a state of knowledge (Clore, 1992), a...
Article
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The current study investigated the effects of change blindness and crime severity on eyewitness identification accuracy. This research, involving 717 subjects, examined change blindness during a simulated criminal act and its effects on subjects’ accuracy for identifying the perpetrator in a photospread. Subjects who viewed videos designed to induc...
Article
Purpose. In this research we assessed whether after a subtle suggestion, participants could be led to falsely remember that they had experienced certain items on a key list, when in fact those items were taken from stories they had constructed.Method. In three experiments 78 participants created a story either about themselves (Expts 1 and 2) or ab...
Article
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While trying to think of an interesting way to introduce this major review of the field of lie detection, I did what lots of people do these days. I typed ‘‘catching liars’’ into the Google search bar and up came 305,000 results in .17 seconds. The first page was ‘‘10 ways to catch a liar’’ from WebMD. The essay featured J.J. Newberry, a trained fe...
Article
This paper reports a new experimental manipulation that increased false memories 1 month after the manipulation. Mirroring the standard three-stage misinformation paradigm (original event, misinformation, and test), subjects in the experimental group were first given a colour-slide presentation of two stories (events), then given an accurate accoun...
Article
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Many current theories of false memories propose that, when we retrieve a memory, we are not reactivating a veridical, fixed representation of a past event, but are rather reactivating incomplete fragments that may be accurate or distorted and may have arisen from other events. By presenting the two phases of the misinformation paradigm in different...