Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1


Ratings: (0)|Views: 484 |Likes:
Published by Foreclosure Fraud

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Foreclosure Fraud on Feb 10, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2201941
Legal Studies Research Paper Series No. 2013-87
False Memories of Fabricated Political Events
Steven J. Frenda 
University of California, Irvine ~ Department of Psychology and Social Behavior 
Eric D. Knowles 
New York University ~ Department of Psychology 
William Saletan 
The Slate Group ~ Washington, D.C 
Elizabeth Loftus 
University of California, Irvine ~ Department of Psychology and Social Behavior University of California, Irvine ~ School of Law.
The paper can be downloaded free of charge from SSRN at:
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2201941
Author's personal copy
False memories of fabricated political events
Steven J. Frenda
, Eric D. Knowles
, William Saletan
, Elizabeth F. Loftus
Department of Psychology and Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA
Department of Psychology, New York University, New York, NY 10003, USA
The Slate Group, 1350 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 400, Washington, D.C., 20036, USA
Over 5,000 subjects were asked if they remembered fabricated political events.
About half of the sample showed evidence of memory distortion.
Political preferences appeared to guide the formation of false memories.
Suggestions that are congruent with prior attitudes and evaluations can produce feelings of familiarity and recognition.
These can in turn bias source judgments, leading to false memories.
a b s t r a c ta r t i c l e i n f o
 Article history:
Received 1 March 2012Revised 5 October 2012Available online 19 November 2012
False memorySource monitoringPolitical preference
In the largest false memory study to date, 5,269 participants were asked about their memories for three trueand one of 
ve fabricated political events. Each fabricated event was accompanied by a photographic imagepurportedly depicting that event. Approximately half the participants falsely remembered that the falseevent happened, with 27% remembering that they saw the events happen on the news. Political orientationappeared to in
uence the formation of false memories, with conservatives more likely to falsely rememberseeing Barack Obama shaking hands with the president of Iran, and liberals more likely to rememberGeorge W. Bush vacationing with a baseball celebrity during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. A follow-upstudy supported the explanation that events are more easily implanted in memory when they are congruentwith a person's preexisting attitudes and evaluations, in part because attitude-congruent false events pro-mote feelings of recognition and familiarity, which in turn interfere with source attributions.© 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In May of 2010, Slate.com invited its readers to complete a surveyabout their perspectives on various political events. Those whovolunteered read about
ve unrelated news events with accompany-ing photographs and were asked about their memories for them. Un-beknownstto the respondents, one of the
ve eventsthey were askedabout was a complete fabrication; it never happened at all. In effect,Slate readers became participants in the largest false memory exper-iment ever conducted.Thesurveywasposted in theweeksleadingup tothepublication of Slate's article on research into false memories (Saletan, 2010). Indeed,the idea that Slate's readers might come to remember whole eventsthat never occurred is based on a voluminous literature suggesting just that. Since the mid-1990s, researchers have investigated the waysin which people come to have vividly detailed, emotionally ladenmemoriesof entirely falseevents
what are knownas
(seeLoftus & Bernstein, 2005). Today, we know quite a lot aboutthe situations that can give rise to rich false memories.A central feature of the memory implantation experiments is theuse of highly credible suggestive information. In several early studies(e.g.,Hyman & Billings, 1998; Hyman, Husband, & Billings, 1995;Loftus & Pickrell, 1995), researchers obtained true childhood eventsfrom familial informants and asked participants to work at remem-bering them. A false event invented by the experimenters (withhelp from the family member)was embedded among the true events,oftenleadingmore thana quarterof participantsto reportfalse mem-ories. Researchers in another unique study recruited a well-knownpsychologist and radio personality to help implant false childhoodmemories in subjects using bogus dream interpretations (Mazzoni,Lombardo, Malvagia, & Loftus, 1999). More recently, a number of studies (e.g.,Bernstein, Laney, Morris, & Loftus, 2005; Sharman &Calacouris, 2010) have led participants to believe that a computer al-gorithm could, based on their responses to a battery of personalityquestionnaires, generate a personalized list of 
childhoodevents. Participants were then asked to try to remember eventsfrom the list, which consisted mostly of true events drawn from
 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49 (2013) 280
Corresponding author.
E-mail addresses:
sfrenda@uci.edu(S.J. Frenda),eknowles@uci.edu(E.D. Knowles), will.saletan@slate.com(W. Saletan),eloftus@uci.edu(E.F. Loftus).
http://Slate.com(W. Saletan).0022-1031/$
see front matter © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2012.10.013
Contents lists available atSciVerse ScienceDirect
 Journal of Experimental Social Psychology
 journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/jesp
Electronic copy available at: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2201941
Author's personal copy
their earlier reports
plus one critical false event. While these studiesinvolveddiverse methodologies, theyall madeuseof suggestions thatappeared to come from a trusted, or expert source.Visual images can also play an important role
a number of stud-ies have shown that both real and doctored photographs can facilitatethe creation of false memories. For instance, large proportions of par-ticipants who saw digitally doctored photographs of a childhood ex-perience that did not happen (i.e., riding in a hot air balloon)ultimately reported false memories of the event (Wade, Garry, Read,& Lindsay, 2002). In certain contexts, even seeing true (unaltered)childhood photographs or generic images can facilitate the creationof false memories (Lindsay, Hagen, Read, Wade, & Garry, 2004;Strange, Hayne, & Garry, 2007). Moreover, research shows that pho-tographs can substantially changeour memories of news and politicalevents; in one study, a doctored photograph caused participants tofalsely remember a peaceful antiwar demonstration as violent anddisruptive (Sacchi, Agnoli, & Loftus, 2007). In another, participantswho saw an image depicting the aftermath of a hurricane weremore likely to erroneously recall details of death and injury in a pre-viously read news report (Garry, Strange, Bernstein, & Kinzett, 2007).Much like photographs, mental imagery can also contribute to thedevelopment of false memories. Simply imagining a false event in-
ates people's con
dence that they experienced it, a phenomenonnow called
imagination in
(e.g.,Garry, Manning, Loftus, &Sherman, 1996). Also, imagining events can lead to the developmentof false memories even in the absence of any suggestion (Mazzoni &Memon, 2003). Finally, a number of studies have used guided imagi-nation to augment the effects of suggestion on memory (e.g.,Hyman& Pentland, 1996). Further, a number of studies have successfullyused guidedimaginationtechniquesto augmenttheeffects ofsugges-tion (e.g.,Hyman & Pentland, 1996).One way to understand these
ndings is to consider them in thecontext of the Source Monitoring Framework (SMF;Johnson,Hashtroudi, & Lindsay, 1993; Lindsay, 2008). According to the SMF,false memories are the result of misattributing the source of imag-ined, inferred, or suggested information to actual experience. Morespeci
cally, people rapidly
often unconsciously
diagnose the ori-gins of their mental experiences by evaluating characteristics suchas perceptual detail, vividness, and familiarity. Photographs, and ourpowerful ability to counterfactually imagine, may amplify these char-acteristics, making source misattributions and false memories morelikely (seeNash, Wade, & Lindsay, 2009).Much of the research on false memories has been conducted usingrelatively small samples of college students. Slate's experiment, inwhich people were shown digitally altered photographs of fabricatednews events and asked about their memories for them, offers aunique opportunity to observe these phenomena on a large scale ina diverse population of people, and to investigate the possible routestofalse memoriesinanewway.In revisiting theSlateexperiment,wediscovered patterns of results that shed new light on factors that canfacilitate the creation of false memories.
Study 1
Participants (N=5,269) completed survey materials posted onSlate.com, an online publication offering reporting and editorialsabout news, politics, science, and culture. Two hundred eighty-
edasmoderate, 3,141 (59.6%) identi
ed as progressive, and 557 (10.5%)reported that the labels were not applicable. Just under half of Slate'sreadership is male, half have at least a college degree, with a medianage of 45 and a median income of about $70,000.
MaterialsTrue events.
A series of events was assembled for use in the presentstudy. Each stimulus included a brief description of a single eventand an unaltered photograph of a public
gure involved in the event.
Terri Schiavo controversy.
In 2005, the U.S. House of Representa-tives passed a law aimed at preventing the death of Terri Schiavo, a41-year-old woman in a persistent vegetative state. An unalteredphotograph depicted House Majority leader DeLay at a podium, advo-cating passage of the law.
Bush's Florida victory.
In 2000, Florida Secretary of State KatherineHarris dismissed ongoing ballot recounts and certi
ed George W.Bush the winner of the presidential election in Florida. An unalteredphotograph depicted Harris at a podium joined by then-governor Jeb Bush.
Powell's Iraq speech.
In 2003, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powellpresented evidence (later discredited) of Iraq's nuclear weapons pro-gram to the United Nations Security Council. Participants saw anunaltered photograph of Powell giving his speech.
Fabricated events.
Fivefabricatedeventswerecreatedbypairingalteredor out-of-context photographs with inaccurate captions (seeFig. 1).
Lieberman's impeachment vote.
Participants saw a caption thatread,
February 12, 1999: Speaking on the Senate
oor at the conclu-sion of President Clinton's impeachment trial, Senator JosephLieberman, D-Conn, announces that he will vote guilty on the chargeofperjury.
A photoofLiebermannexttotheSenatevotetally,brokendown by party af 
liation, was altered to make it appear that oneDemocrat had voted
In fact, Lieberman voted
not guilty
along with every other Democrat Senator at the time.
Cheney/Edwards argument.
Participants saw a caption that read,
October 5, 2004: During their televised debate, Vice President DickCheneyrebukesSen. John Edwardsfor bringing upthe sexual orienta-tion of Cheney's lesbian daughter. Moderator Gwen I
ll intervenes toremind the debaters of the ground rules.
An unaltered photo of Che-ney looking angrily at Edwards during their debate was presented. Infact, the moderator raised the issue of Cheney's daughter in the con-text of the same-sex marriage debate; Edwards praised Cheney foraccepting his daughter's sexual orientation and Cheney thanked Ed-wards for the compliment.
April14, 2008: Trailing in the delegate count for the Democratic presidentialnomination, Sen. Hillary Clinton airs an ad in Pennsylvania linking Sen.Barack Obama to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Under criticism, she pullsdown the ad but wins the primary.
A still image from a Republicanadvertisement featuring Obama and Wright was doctored to looklike Clinton had approved it. In fact, Clinton never aired such anadvertisement.
Bush's Katrina vacation.
Participants saw a caption that read,
September 1, 2005: As parts of New Orleans lie underwater in thewake of Hurricane Katrina, President Bush entertains Houston Astrospitcher Roger Clemens at his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
An alteredphotograph depicted Clemens in a truck with Bush in Crawford. Infact, Bush was at the White House when Hurricane Katrina hit, andClemens never visited Bush's Crawford ranch.
Obama's handshake.
Participants saw a caption that read,
April 20,2009:PresidentObama,greetingheadsofstateataUnitedNationscon-ference, shakes the hand of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.White House aides say the encounter was unplanned and the hand-shake was a formality.
A photograph of Obama shaking handswith a man in a suit was altered to make it appear that the manwas Ahmadinejad. In fact, there is no public record of the two menever meeting or shaking hands.
Memory probe.
After viewing each stimulus, participants reportedwhether they remembered the event by selecting one of the
S.J. Frenda et al. / Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 49 (2013) 280

Activity (5)

You've already reviewed this. Edit your review.
1 hundred reads
John Reed liked this
BRONXLEGAL liked this
John Reed liked this

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->