Creating False Memories Using the DRM Method

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    • 00:04

      [Creating False Memories: A Case Study]

    • 00:10

      DAWN MCBRIDE: Hi.I'm Doctor Dawn McBride, and I'm a professor at Illinois StateUniversity. [Dr. Dawn McBride, Professor, Departmentof Psychology, Illinois State University]I'm going to explain what false memory is, how it affectsour lives, and show you a common methodthat researchers have used to learn about false memory.In particular, I'll be talking about what is false memory, whydo false memories occur, how do false memories affect

    • 00:32

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: our lives, and then I'm going to show youwhat's known as the DRM procedurefor creating false memories.And it's a common method that researchersuse to try to experimentally create false memories so theycan study them.[What is False Memory?]False memory occurs when we remember an event incorrectly.It may be as simple as replacing a detail such as the color

    • 00:55

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: of a shirt someone was wearing, or thinking you had givensomeone a message when in fact you hadn't.These kind of errors occur pretty much all the time.But we don't always realize that we'remaking these errors, because we think that our memory isactually pretty accurate.[Why do False Memories occur?]False memories occur as a normal process in remembering.

    • 01:17

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Because memories are generally reconstructive in nature,we sometimes put the pieces back together wrongwhen we are trying to retrieve a memory.So basically, when we try to remember an experiencewe've had, we're putting back togetherall the pieces of that memory that we'vestored-- the visual information, the sensory information, how wefelt at the time, and so forth.

    • 01:39

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: And when we try to put all those pieces together correctly,sometimes one of those pieces is going in the wrong.It's not quite right.And so we have a false memory for that particular event.Because memory is organized in terms of connections,such that common memory errors areones that are related by theme, script,or meaning for a situation.

    • 01:60

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: So in other words, the details that we insert that are wrongtend to be consistent with the experience wehad, but just weren't consistent with that particularexperience.Like you might remember details of going to a restaurantincorrectly, because you've been to so many restaurantsand you know exactly what it's like to be at a restaurant.Typically, false memories occur, like I said,

    • 02:21

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: without us realizing that we've made an error.In fact, in many cases, people arereally confident that they're recalling their memoriescorrectly when in fact, they've made an error.They have a false memory for the event.[How does False Memory affect our lives?]So how does false memory affect our lives?Well, there have been several famous cases of false memories

    • 02:43

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: that have occurred during eyewitness testimony.One such case is the story of Jennifer Thompson and RonaldCotton.When she was a college student, Jennifer Thompsonwas attacked in her apartment one night.And when she went to the police to report the crime,they asked her to come up with a sketch of the suspect,with a sketch artist.

    • 03:03

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: They drew a sketch of the person and theneventually they arrested someone who looked like that sketch.They brought Jennifer in for a lineup.She identified the person that they had arrested.She was told she correctly identified the person thathad been arrested.And this person was Ronald Cotton.He was tried and convicted of the crime.But then several years later, it wasdiscovered that a different person had actually

    • 03:25

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: committed the crime.And Jennifer actually felt quite terriblein giving her eyewitness testimony for someonewho was innocent.At this point, Jennifer and Ronaldare actually good friends, and discussed their experiencewith people to let them know about the effectsof false memory and its impact on the legal system.But this is just an example of how false memory can

    • 03:48

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: influence court cases and affect things in a very serious way.[The DRM procedure for creating False Memories]What I'd like to do next is show youa procedure that researchers haveused to create false memories in the laboratory.It's called the DRM procedure, after the researcherswho developed it.

    • 04:09

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: In 1995, researchers Roediger III and McDermottpublished a study using a new method to experimentally inducesimple false memories in subjects, in order to studyhow these false memories occur.They based their method on an older studyby a researcher named Deese, so the procedureis referred to as the DRM, for these three researchers.I'm going to illustrate that method for you here.

    • 04:30

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: I'm going to show you a set of words, one at a time,on the screen.And I'd like you simply to pay attentionto these words for a later memory test.Queen.Crown.Castle.England.Throne.Ruler.Print.

    • 04:52

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Royalty.Power.Hill.Valley.Climb.Summit.Top.Molehill.Peak.Plain.Glacier.

    • 05:14

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Butter.Food.Eat.Sandwich.Rye.Jam.Milk.Flour.Jelly.Thread.Pin.

    • 05:36

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Eye.Sewing.Sharp.Point.Prick.Thimble.Haystack.Steal.Robber.Crook.

    • 05:56

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Burglar.Money.Cop.Bad.Rob.Jail.Shoe.Hand.Toe.Kick.Sandals.

    • 06:18

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Soccer.Yard.Walk.Ankle.Now for each of the words that appears on the screen,just jot down yes or no as to whether yousaw these words in the list that I just showed you.

    • 07:33

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: Now for the words in blue, count the numberthat you wrote down yes for.These are actually words that are false memories.If you look at the organization of the list that I showed you,you'll see that each of these words is a theme word.And all of the words that came with that list

    • 07:56

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: are associated in some way by meaning to that word in blue.This procedure is done this way to create false memoriesfor these theme words, called critical lures,that are never shown to subjects in the list,but subjects actually report having seen themin the list with great confidence.And this is exactly how the DRM procedure experimentally

    • 08:17

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: creates these false memories so the researchers can then betterstudy how these memories are created,and why they're created.[Conclusion]So in this case study, I've discussed what false memory is,how it affects our lives, and I'veshown you a procedure that we usein the lab to experimentally create false memories.

    • 08:39

      DAWN MCBRIDE [continued]: So some questions that you might wantto think about now, with regard to false memory.Can you think of a time when you'vehad a false memory that you laterdiscovered was inaccurate?What are the implications of false memoriesfor our legal system?And how has learning about false memorychanged the way that you think about your own memories?

Creating False Memories Using the DRM Method

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Abstract

Professor Dawn McBride explains that false memories occur because all memories are reconstructions and sometimes details aren't reassembled correctly. She cites the case of Jennifer Thompson, who incorrectly identified Ronald Cotton as her rapist. McBride also demonstrates the DRM procedure, which researchers use to create false memories.

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Creating False Memories Using the DRM Method

Professor Dawn McBride explains that false memories occur because all memories are reconstructions and sometimes details aren't reassembled correctly. She cites the case of Jennifer Thompson, who incorrectly identified Ronald Cotton as her rapist. McBride also demonstrates the DRM procedure, which researchers use to create false memories.

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