Loftus Experiment Essay
Elizabeth Loftus, a psychologist and expert on memory, has conducted much research on human memories, real and imagined, and how that may happen.
Loftus, personally, has experienced the misinformation effect and eyewitness memory. Even though there are several experiments outlined, I chose the ‘Lost in the Mall’ experiment as more fitting to the sex abuse testimony she gave. Participants, twenty-four of them, were given a detailed, written description of four events that took place during childhood; all but one actually happened.The event that did not take place, called the pseudoevent, described the child, at about five or six years of age, becoming detached from the family unit for a relatively lengthy period of time. Also described, was the reunion and a few facts in between. After reading the event descriptions, each participant was instructed to recall and write down every detail that they remembered. A couple of weeks later, without rereading from this point on, they were asked to recall the details again.Another week or two went by, and again, they were asked to recall the events with as much detail as they could remember.
By the last interview, six out of the original twenty-four, had recreated either partial or full memories of being lost in a shopping mall-which did not actually happen, to any of them. After the study participants had been told about the experiment, some still struggled with the realness of it all. So, what does this have to do with the priest sex abuse case?Everything. The victim had someone he knew come forward with a confession of going through abuse at the same church victim attended.
Another important point, the priest had no other accuser. And, even though this allegedly went on for years, victim supposedly repressed ALL of the memories. It is very possible that these memories were suggested and imagined. This is the point that Loftus was trying to make when she took the stand.