The Situationist

Posts Tagged ‘memory’

Elizabeth Loftus on False Memories

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 15, 2012

From Beyond Belief Conference in 2006 (includes discussion of the role of litigation in altering people’s memories):

Related Situationist posts:

Posted in Illusions, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Eyewitness Identification

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 31, 2011

Read the Innocence Project’s “Reevaluating Lineups” report on eyewitness misidentifications here (pdf).

From the BBC, here are some revealing clips from their series, Eyewitness.

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Related Situationist posts:

Posted in Illusions, Law, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Joseph LeDoux on the Neural Situation of Emotion and Memory

Posted by The Situationist Staff on October 19, 2010

Joseph LeDoux is a professor and a member of the Center for Neural Science and Department of Psychology at NYU. His work is focused on the brain mechanisms of emotion and memory. In addition to articles in scholarly journals, he is author of “The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life” and “Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are.” He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a fellow of the New York Academy of Science, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Science, and the recipient of the 2005 Fyssen International Prize in Cognitive Science. LeDoux is also a singer and songwriter in the rock band, The Amygdaloids.

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For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of Neuroeconomics and Situationist Economics,” “The Interior Situation of Complex Human Feelings,” “The Situation of Memory,” “Accidentally Us,” “The Affective Situation of Ethics and Mediation,” and Situating Emotion.”

Posted in Emotions, Neuroscience, Video | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Dan Kahneman on the Situation of Experience and Memory

Posted by The Situationist Staff on April 23, 2010

From TedTalks: “Using examples from vacations to colonoscopies, Nobel laureate and founder of behavioral economics Daniel Kahneman reveals how our “experiencing selves” and our “remembering selves” perceive happiness differently. This new insight has profound implications for economics, public policy — and our own self-awareness.”

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To sample some related Situationist posts, see “The Situation of Becoming Happier,” Dan Kahneman on the Situation of Well-Being,” Dan Kahneman on the Situation of Intuition,” and “Martin Seligman on Positive Psychology.” For a sample of other Situationist posts related to Kahneman’s work, see Dan Kahneman’s Situation,” “The Situation of Financial Risk-Taking,” “Some (Interior) Situational Sources War – Part I,” and “Some (Interior) Situational Sources War – Part II.”

Posted in Behavioral Economics, Choice Myth, Life, Positive Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of False Confessions

Posted by The Situationist Staff on December 29, 2009

Ian Herbert, one of the very best translators of mind science research for popular audiences, has written an informative and disconcerting article, “The Psychology and Power of False Confessions” for the latest issue of The Observer.”  Here are some excerpts.

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We know that false confessions do happen on a fairly regular basis. Because of advances in DNA evidence, the Innocence Project has been able to exonerate more than 200 people who had been wrongly convicted, 49 of whom had confessed to the crime we now know they didn’t commit. In a survey of 1,000 college students, four percent of those who had been interrogated by police said they gave a false confession.

But Why?

Why do people confess to crimes they didn’t commit? . . . . In the November 2004 issue of Psychological Science in the Public Interest, APS Fellow Saul Kassin looked at the body of research and described how the police are able to interrogate suspects until they confess to a crime they didn’t commit.

Generally, it starts because people give up their Miranda rights. In fact, Richard A. Leo found that a majority of people give up the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. In fact, according to self-report data, innocent suspects gave up their rights more often than guilty suspects (most told Leo either that this was because they felt that they didn’t have anything to hide because they were innocent or that they thought it would make them look guilty).

Once a suspect starts talking, the police can use a variety of techniques to make the accused feel as though they are better off confessing than continuing to deny (these include promises of leniency and threats of harsher interrogation or sentences). If a suspect feels like a conviction is inevitable not matter what he or she says, confessing may seem like a good idea.

But, in some cases, the accused comes to believe that he or she actually did commit the crime. It’s been shown repeatedly that memory is quite malleable and unreliable. Elizabeth Loftus has repeatedly shown that the human brain can create memories out of thin air with some prompting. In a famous series of experiments, Loftus, APS Past President, was able to help people create memories for events that never happened in their lives simply through prompting. She helped them “remember” being lost in a shopping mall when they were children, and the longer the experiment went on, the more details they “remembered.” The longer police interrogate a suspect, emphatic about his guilt and peppering their interrogation with details of the crime, the more likely a suspect is to become convinced himself.

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Despite the evidence that false confessions are a regular occurrence, most jurors struggle with the concept . . . . Confessions are difficult to discount, even if they appear to be coerced. Years ago, Kassin noticed that cases with confessions have an unusually high conviction rate, and since then he has dedicated his life to studying why that happens and what can be done about it.

In a 1997 study, Kassin and colleague Katherine Neumann gave subjects case files with weak circumstantial evidence plus either a confession, an eyewitness account, a character witness, or no other evidence. Across the board, prospective jurors were more likely to vote guilty if a confession was included in the trial, even when they were told that the defendant was incoherent at the time of the confession and immediately recanted what he said.

Kassin and Neumann also did two simultaneous studies to further explore the power of confessions. In one, they had people watch a trial and turn a dial to rate the extent to which evidence convinced them the defendant was guilty or innocent. The other asked potential jurors after the trial which evidence was most powerful. In both the mid-trial and post-trial ratings, jurors saw the confession as the most incriminating. Other studies have shown that conviction rates rise even when jurors see confessions as coerced and even when they say that the confession played no role in their judgment. “I don’t honestly think juries stand a chance in cases involving confessions,” Kassin says. “They’re bound to convict.”

Kassin says he doesn’t blame jurors. He travels around the country lecturing on the psychology of false confessions and he says “the most common reaction I get from a lay audience is, ‘Well, I would never do that. I would never confess to something I didn’t do.’ And people apply that logic in the jury room. It’s just that basic belief that false confessions don’t occur.” What’s more, the evidence juries are given in conjunction with the false confessions is very damning, Kassin says. False confessions of guilt often include vivid details of how a crime was committed — and why. Confessions sometimes even come with an apology to the family. It’s no wonder jurors have trouble discounting them.

What confessions rarely include is an explanation of why the person confessed. In most states, police are not required to videotape the interrogations, just the confessions. So juries don’t get to see any potential police coercion and they don’t get to see the police planting those vivid details in the minds of the suspects.

And that may be just the tip of the iceberg. Kassin believes that confessions can have a dramatic impact on trials even if they never make it into a courtroom. They can influence potential eyewitnesses, for example, and taint other kinds of evidence.

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To read the entire article, including a section discussing Kassin’s fascinating research with psychologist Lisa Hasel testing the effect of confessions on eyewitnesses, click here.  To visit Ian Herbert’s superb blog, We’re Only Human, click here.

For a sample of related Situationist posts, see The Legal Situation of the Underclass,”The Situation of Criminality – Abstract,” The Painful Situation of Guilt,” A Situationist View of Criminal Prosecutors,” “Jennifer Eberhardt’s “Policing Racial Bias” – Video,” The Justice Department, Milgram, & Torture,” “Why Torture? Because It Feels Good (at least to “Us”),” “The Situation of Solitary Confinement,” The Situation of Punishment (and Forgiveness),” “Clarence Darrow on the Situation of Crime and Criminals,” “The Situation of Punishment,” “Why We Punish,” “The Situation of Death Row,” and “Lessons Learned from the Abu Ghraib Horrors.”

Posted in Choice Myth, Illusions, Law | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

Elizabeth Loftus and the Situation of False Memories

Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 12, 2009

From Chautauqua Institution, here’s a worthwhile video in which renowned social psychologist, Elizabeth Loftus, Distinguished Professor at the University of California, Irvine, discusses her remarkable research on human memory and the prevalence of false memories.  She also explains how her findings are relevant for everything from law to dieting.

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For related Situationist posts “Emotional Content of True and False Memories – Abstract,” “Mood & Memory,” “The Situation of Confabulation,” “Emotional Content of True and False Memories – Abstract,” “The Situation of Memory,” and “Mistakes Were Made (but not by me).”

Posted in Illusions, Law, Life, Social Psychology, Video | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Mood & Memory

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 5, 2009

Long Face by Nathan MarciniakFrom a recent brief story, “Bad mood, better recall, researchers find“:

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People grumbling their way through the grimness of winter have better recall than those enjoying a carefree, sunny day, Australian researchers have found.

The University of New South Wales team used a Sydney news agency to test whether people’s moods had an impact on their ability to remember small details.

Researchers placed 10 small items on the shop counter, including a toy cannon, red bus and a piggy bank, and quizzed shoppers about what they remembered seeing upon their exit.

Lead researcher Joseph Forgas said subjects were able to remember three times as many items on cold, windy, rainy days when there was sombre classical music playing as they were when conditions were sunny and bright.

Rainy-day shoppers were also less likely to have false memories of objects that weren’t there, said Forgas.

“We predicted and found that weather-induced negative mood improved memory accuracy,” he wrote in the study, which was published in the latest edition of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

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To read the entire summary, click here.  To read some related Situationist posts, see “Mood and Moral Judgment - Abstract,” Emotional Content of True and False Memories - Abstract,” and “The Situation of Memory.”

Posted in Abstracts, Emotions, Life | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Situation of Memory

Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 16, 2008

Old and Wise - Image by KoAn, FlickrSara Reistad-Long wrote a short piece for the New York Times last month titled “Older Brain Really May Be a Wiser Brain. Here are some excerpts.

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When older people can no longer remember names at a cocktail party, they tend to think that their brainpower is declining. But a growing number of studies suggest that this assumption is often wrong.

Instead, the research finds, the aging brain is simply taking in more data and trying to sift through a clutter of information, often to its long-term benefit.

The studies are analyzed in a new edition of a neurology book, “Progress in Brain Research.”

Some brains do deteriorate with age. . . . But for most aging adults, the authors say, much of what occurs is a gradually widening focus of attention that makes it more difficult to latch onto just one fact, like a name or a telephone number. Although that can be frustrating, it is often useful.

“It may be that distractibility is not, in fact, a bad thing,” said Shelley H. Carson, a psychology researcher at Harvard whose work was cited in the book. “It may increase the amount of information available to the conscious mind.”

Posted in Life, Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The Situation of Intelligence – Abstract

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 22, 2008

Susanne M. Jaeggi, Martin Buschkuehl, John Jonides, and Walter J. Perrig published an article, “Improving fluid intelligence with training on working memory,” in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. We’ve posted the absract below. To read a New York Times article about the research, click here.

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Fluid intelligence (Gf) refers to the ability to reason and to solve new problems independently of previously acquired knowledge. Gf is critical for a wide variety of cognitive tasks, and it is considered one of the most important factors in learning. Moreover, Gf is closely related to professional and educational success, especially in complex and demanding environments. Although performance on tests of Gf can be improved through direct practice on the tests themselves, there is no evidence that training on any other regimen yields increased Gf in adults. Furthermore, there is a long history of research into cognitive training showing that, although performance on trained tasks can increase dramatically, transfer of this learning to other tasks remains poor. Here, we present evidence for transfer from training on a demanding working memory task to measures of Gf. This transfer results even though the trained task is entirely different from the intelligence test itself. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the extent of gain in intelligence critically depends on the amount of training: the more training, the more improvement in Gf. That is, the training effect is dosage-dependent. Thus, in contrast to many previous studies, we conclude that it is possible to improve Gf themselves, opening a wide range of applications. without practicing the testing tasks.

Posted in Abstracts, Education | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Interview of Eric Kandel

Posted by The Situationist Staff on May 9, 2008

Here is a twenty-one minute interview of Nobel Laureate Eric Kandel, discussing memory, free will, the history of science, Freud, and his work with pharmaceutical companies among other things. This video comes from Science Blogs.

Posted in History, Neuroscience, Video | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

 
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