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Reliability of Our Memory: Analysis of the Effect of Flashbulb Memory

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The TED talk is about how memories are not reliable, begin with a raping case. Because the false memory of the victim. It destroyed the future of an innocent man. Our memory is not like a recording machine. The information in our memory can be changed (Loftus, 2013). Everyone including our self can go inside and change the memory. Elizabeth also talked about how memory experiments can lead to ethical problems. For example, when soldiers were being arrested as prisoners, we pretend to be the interrogator and so them questions in an aggressive and irritating way. It will cause false memories for the soldiers and they committed the wrong interrogator. She claimed the outcome outweighed the process. Even though it might cause problems for the soldier after the experiment. But the result showed the importance of learning how suggestive information or misinformation changes our memory, it would save people like Titus who would have a normal happy life if it wouldn’t be false memory.

Dr. Loftus provides an idea of memories can be changed and is sometimes not reliable. She showed an example of different ways of asking questions would lead to different answers. Ask “How fast were the car going to smash/hit into each other?”, when we were using smash, people would answer a faster speed wish broken windows. It is surprising that the picture of the accident was already given, and the window was fine. We can plant false memories in other people as well. The example she gave was telling a person that he was lost in a shopping mall when he was a kid. They also tried to plant more stressful memory such as nearly drown when he was child. Ass the experiment succeeded. The result clearly showed ways of changing memory, not only the person himself but also other people can change the memory.

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Episodic memory is personal memory (Cacippo and Freberg, 331). And false memory is all about personal experience. The ways we think it happened in our life. It is specific information about events objects and people with timelines. The source of information can result from single personal experience. The focus of the memory is based on subjective experience. Whenever any of the events, places, people or timeline changes it can tell a totally different story. Like the Titus story, the time and place did not change, but the important round of people changed, the victim had a false memory about the part of people but with the same events and place. Which caused terrible results for the innocents. Flashbulb Memory showed “How stress and negative emotion-release of hormones and by patterns of brain activity that can wither enhance or impair memory processing” (342). The case is often stressful and painful for the victim to process their memory, and when the memory is uncertain, they can easily affect by external factors such as ways of asking the victim and testimony of the witness. However, “when the ones of witness claim the criminal with confident, detail or a strong emotion does not make imagination reality” (Loftus, 2013). But it often confuses the victim and causes false memory, which lead from “I think that the one” to “I am positive sure that is the one”. In the section of forgetting, motivated forgetting explains. Within extreme circumstances, “forgetting protects against threatening information”. And confabulation related to the confusion of reality and imagined events. (Cacippo and Freberg, 347). Connecting with flashbulb memory and the whole process, it makes sense why it is possible for false memory to occur. When the victim experiences the case in a stressful and harmful situation, her body would produce hormones that affect her memory processing, and for the result, the victim’s body would forget or change of that part of memory for protection. This will result in a false memory and leads to terrible result like the Titus case.

The most interesting and controversial point I find is the ethical and offense problem of experimental among false memories. From one example, that putting U.S. military into a stressful event such as what will happen if they were captured as prisoners during war. It involved “aggressive, hostile, physically abusive fashion” (Loftus, 2013). Then they will identify the person in the interrogation with suggested information were given. Also, for other cases where they plant false memories inside a person to the outcomes. All these scientific experiments lead to ethical and offense problems. Therapist felt they were being attacked and patient feel they were influenced by these problems. I agree with Elizabeth, the study of false memory is preventing destroying innocent people’s lives, the outcome outweighs the cost.

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Reliability of Our Memory: Analysis of the Effect of Flashbulb Memory. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 8, 2023, from
“Reliability of Our Memory: Analysis of the Effect of Flashbulb Memory.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Reliability of Our Memory: Analysis of the Effect of Flashbulb Memory. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 8 Dec. 2023].
Reliability of Our Memory: Analysis of the Effect of Flashbulb Memory [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Dec 8]. Available from:
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