Mind bending: Why our memories are not always our own
>A strand of this research has concentrated on implanting “rich false memories”, showing that the misinformation effect can apply to entire fictional episodes, not just details of events. People can be manipulated into remembering being lost in a shopping mall as a child, having an accident at a wedding, or meeting Bugs Bunny at a Disney resort. Crucially, researchers know that misinformation effects in scenarios such as the latter cannot stem from any genuine true memories, since Bugs Bunny is a Warner Brothers character and would never be seen at Disneyland. >The findings on rich false memories show that the misinformation effect is particularly strong when other people, especially family members, are providing the interjected information. Some benefits accrue to collaborative remembering, such as the everyday finding that couples can often help each other out by remembering bits of information that the other partner forgets. But there are negative effects as well. The term “social contagion” is used to describe the process whereby an account of an event incorporates erroneous information provided by other people. Another phenomenon, known as “collaborative inhibition”, refers to the findings that a group of people who are allowed to discuss an event actually remember less about it than the same number of people tested individually. When others are around, it seems, we are less good at retrieving the factual details of an event.