A current and fascinating area of research is that of Elizabeth Loftus. Dr. Loftus believes
that memory can be reconstructed and changed based upon outside influences and has
studied misinformation effects, eyewitness testimony and memories of abuse.
Read about Dr. Loftus’ research in the textbook and go to You Tube to search for
Elizabeth Loftus. www.youtube.com
There are many videos about her and explaining her research. Choose 2 videos ( Please
provide links to it)which you find interesting (choose ones that have her actually speaking
about her research and not copies of her experiments done by others.)
Dr. Loftus also has her own website.
Answer the following questions in essay form (please answer and number each question
- Explain the 2 YouTube videos that you watched about Dr. Loftus
- Discuss the Mini Lecture #20 article and video. Watch both parts of the video to answer
a What occurred to Jennifer Thompson and Ronald Cotton?
b How did the police investigation and procedures allow this injustice to occur?
c How have police procedures changed now?
d What are your thoughts about this story?
- Discuss 3 facts that you learned about memory from reading Myers’ discussion of
Memory in chapter 7 of the textbook. Cite pages of textbook.
- How would you summarize the concept of “memory”?
In the first video, Elizabeth Loftus discusses the possibility of implanting a false childhood
memory in a person’s mind by merely suggesting that it happened through the use of actual facts
and suggestions of possibilities of what would have took place. This was done by getting
background information from the subjects’ parents prior to talking to them. A quarter of this
population ended up accepting the existence of the memory which was in fact false (Loftus,
In the second video, Elizabeth Loftus discusses the unreliability of eye witness testimonies. Her
hypothesis or argument is that eye witness accounts are actually much more malleable than we
think. This is to say that the accuracy of these events is more flexible thus making it unreliable as
a source of reference for incidents that individuals have witnessed (Loftus, 2010).
Jennifer Thompson was raped and in a bid to ensure the rapist gets justice insisted that Ronald
Cotton was the one. As a result, he got convicted of a crime he did not commit and spent a
decade in prison.
Police investigations allowed this injustice to occur because they relied exclusively on the eye
witness account rather than other important circumstances.
Police procedures have changed in that there is more reliance on forensic evidence in
combination with eye witness accounts.
This story makes me have serious doubts about eye witness testimonies and also it leads me to be
sympathetic about the large number of people who have probably been convicted despite their
innocence due to reliance on eye witness accounts.
The first fact I have learnt is that that there are three stages of memory formation and these are
sensory, short-term and then long-term memory.
The second fact I learnt is that routine events are easy to recall because they have become
automatic thus leaving very little need for effort.
The third fact I got was that sleep is indeed good for the brain (Myers, n.d.).
Memory can therefore be summarized as a the sum or recollections that an individual
experiences subjectively depending on the context of the actual event as well as the present
Loftus, E (2009) The Power of Suggestion.