#10 Why you cannot trust your memory w/Elizabeth Loftus

Our memory is a construction and is relatively easy to influence. For example, you probably think that you know exactly where you where and what you were doing on 9/11. But chances are, that parts of the memory are not entirely true. The good news is, that you can improve the quality and accuracy of your memory.

Elizabeth Loftus is the world’s leading expert on memory and is known for her work on the nature of false memories. She found that it is possible to plant entire false events into the minds of ordinary people and have them remember it like any other memory. Her studies on false memory made her the most influential female psychological researcher of the 20th century. In this episode of What Monkeys Do, we talk about memory and how it is possible to improve the accuracy of your memory.

Elizabeth will talk about

  • Why we can’t trust our memory. It consists of bits and pieces of different times and places that we reconstruct into something that feels like a memory. 
  • How much you can trust the memory of a witness
  • Why some people have a better memory than others – and how you can enhance yours
  • Why we probably don’t remember what we were doing on 9/11
  • And of course – how to better remember names

Are you too busy? Here are the key points

If you are too busy, don’t worry. As always, I have collected the three most important takeaways from my conversation with Elizabeth.

However, Elizabeth has conducted years of studies that cannot be summed up in only three points. Listen to the full episode to hear about some of her fascinating experiments and findings.

#1 We cannot trust our memory. Our memory is simply not a true representation of what happened. Not even when we are strongly convinced that we know what happened. Like where you were on 9/11. It is possible to plant false memories in people.

#2 Our biases influence our memories. In What Monkeys Do, we talk a lot about biases. How they affect our decision making. How they affect the way, we look at the world. Elizabeth reminded us that our biases also influence our memories. We simply remember an event differently depending on our individual biases.

#3 We can train our memory. We tend to better remember things we find interesting. That’s because we pay more attention to those things. Actually, we can train our memory to become more accurate just by paying more attention. So, if you are struggling to remember names, you should try to pay more attention, when they tell you. Moreover, you can rehearse the new information in a certain pattern to improve your chances even more. Listen to the episode to find out how exactly.

Curious for more? Here are the links I promised

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