Monday, January 25, 2016

Well That's a Little Scary


Was my response to this article:

People can be convinced they committed a non-existant crime in just 3 hours

Publishing their results in the journal Psychological Science, Shaw and Porter found that of 30 students who were told they’d committed a crime in their teenage years, 21 - so, 71 percent - ended up developing a false memory of the event taking place. Of the 20 who were told they committed some kind of assault, either with or without a weapon, 11 were able to describe in incredible detail their interaction with the police on the matter - an event that never happened.  
Similarly, 76.6 percent of the 30 students who were fed false stories about their teenage years that weren’t of a crimal nature ended up forming false memories about them too. 
The researchers report that when they compared the false stories, the false crime memories ended up just as detailed as the false emotional memories, right down to similar ratings of confidence, vividness, and sensory detail, as determined by the students. It was those small, true details that convinced the students of a much bigger lie.

My first thoughts go to the women who are convinced to confess to false reports of rape when they weren't lying and to the people of color who are accused of "resisting arrest" when they never did.

Memory is a funny thing. The typical human memory is wildly inaccurate, influenced by mood and perception, biases, and the fact that the brain naturally lets go of the less important details from conscious memory to save space. State of mind also plays a huge role. The traumatized or terrified mind does not form memories properly because it's in overdrive just trying to survive.

Which is why I say, again - sexual assault victims who don't have clear memories of their assault are very typical and more likely to be telling the truth. Lies are easier to remember because they're made up and often rehearsed. Same goes with victims of police brutality.

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