What Is A False Memory? Here’s All You Need To Know

False memories can also happen when subjects misunderstand why new objects on a recognition test feel familiar.

In psychology, a false memory is a phenomenon where any individual remembers something that did not appear or remembers it in a different way from the way it really happened. It is not completely clear how pseudomemories come about, however, certain therapeutic practices are regarded possibly to improve and inspire their creation.

For example, some therapists use hypnosis or methods of “guided imagery” on clients who appear to be struggling from the suppression of memories of emotionally traumatic events, regularly experienced throughout childhood. Encouraged to visualise episodes of violence or abuse throughout therapy, clients might also consequently have problem keeping apart these imaginary activities from reality. Researchers have discovered that humans who “recover” pseudomemories of trauma are often more suggestible and more susceptible to dissociation, that is, to feel separated from their real experience than most other people.

Causes of having a false memory

Inaccurate Perception

Sometimes the problem starts while the original event is still occurring, that is, while the memory is being encoded. If the understanding of an event is inaccurate, then it can’t be remembered precisely.

Consider an eyewitness who is requested to precisely understand a crime. He/She might also have viewed the perpetrator only briefly, in the dark, from a distance, and while experiencing stress – all conditions that decrease her capability to see him in the first place, which will dramatically decrease her later capability to pick out him.

Misattributions of Familiarity

False memories can also happen when subjects misunderstand why new objects on a recognition test feel familiar. A based demonstration of this is acknowledged as the false reputation effect.


Consider some of the issues that might also happen when one tries to understand whether or not an event happened in the past. Recognition tests ask subjects to make choices about whether or not they have seen every collection of words, objects or human beings before, and some of the test objects are already studied and some are new.

Here are some ways to prevent false memories :

Use Imagery

Researchers have discovered that when humans use imagery to create a visible illustration of information, their memory for that data is higher and much less susceptible to false memories.

Search Your Memory

Experts also propose that selectively looking out memory for errors and falsehoods can every so often be helpful.

One of the high-quality methods to fight false memories is to be conscious that they exist. Memory does not work like a video digital camera that records each and every element exactly as it happened and perfectly preserves it.

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