The paradox of memory is remarkable. Our capacity for memory is so vast yet so flawed in many simple ways, such as with false memories. The phenomenon is discussed in this article. The article mentions a study on the susceptibility of our memory to social influences. In Following the Crowd: Brain Substrates of Long-Term Memory Conformity, researchers Micah Edelson Tali Sharot, Raymond J. Dolan, Yadin Dudai used suggestive memory techniques to see if a groups input would have any effect on a persons own memory of a movie.The participants exhibited a strong tendency to conform to the false recollections of the group even when their initial memory was right and they were confident about it. Even when it was reveled to them that the group input was fake they, for the most part, didn't change back, indicating that their memory of the event truly had changed, as apposed to simply agreeing with the group against their better judgment. The use of the misinformation effect shows that social manipulation can alter memory.
What I found most interesting about that article however, was the scientists speculation on why this effect may exist in the first place. "memory conformity may also serve an adaptive purpose, because social learning is often more efficient and accurate than individual learning. ... humans may be predisposed to trust the judgment of the group, even when it stands in opposition to their own original beliefs". This speculation points to the the possible origin of this phenomenon as being primal. If one were to remember something and then be told by everyone else that he is wrong, then he would change his beliefs. This proposition claims that you cut out the step where you change your mind and you simply believe that you remembered it that way all along. Pretty confusing.
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