David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Consciousness and Cognition 3 (3-4):438-451 (1994)
Two decades of research using repeated false statements and underhanded information have shown that people can easily be made to believe that they have seen or experienced something they never did. In this paper, we discuss the possibility that the mental health professional and client may unknowingly collaborate to create a client′s false memory of childhood sexual abuse. Both therapist and client bring beliefs into therapy, and the confirmation bias shows that people discover what they already believe to be true. What do people believe about memory? We asked 115 students for their reactions to various statements about how memory works; results showed widespread belief in the repression mechanism. A principal components analysis revealed that three larger beliefs explained 61% of the variance in the more specific beliefs: possible sources of memory distortions, memory for traumatic events, and the potential recoverability of memories. Finally, we discuss the ambiguity inherent in the term repression, as well as the generalizability of misinformation research to the repressed and recovered memories.
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