Study: Half of people “remember” events that never happened

According to a recent study, once a person hears that a fictional event happened, there’s a 50/50 chance that they will believe that it took place and start to embellish it with details, even if the imaginary event is of a personal nature.

For example, researchers “primed” subjects with fake (but relatively harmless) memories, such as taking a childhood hot-air balloon ride or pulling a prank on a friend.

Researchers intimated that the imaginary events  were real.


And, the result …


Based on the experiments:

More than half showed strong evidence of believing that the event occurred in the past.

Approximately 1/3 of participants even elaborated on how the event occurred and described details of what it was like.”



The study “highlights the slippery nature of human memory” … and “raises questions about the integrity of processes — such as courtroom testimony — that rely heavily on human memory.”

The researchers note:

“it can be difficult to objectively determine when someone is recollecting the past, versus reporting other forms of knowledge or belief or describing mental representations that have originated in other sources of experience.”



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