How Good Is Your Memory Recall? | Summary and Q&A

February 3, 2015
World Science Festival
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How Good Is Your Memory Recall?


Through a word list experiment, the audience is induced to develop false memories through the process of misattribution, highlighting the fallibility of memory.

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Key Insights

  • 🥺 False memories can be induced through suggestion and misattribution, leading individuals to remember events or details that never happened.
  • 🥶 Memory tests, such as free recall and recognition, can help assess the accuracy of one's memory.
  • ❓ Priming, although similar to misattribution, is not conscious, while misattribution involves conscious memory errors.
  • 🍧 Misattribution errors can result in individuals having a confident but false memory.


there are things that can happen to us all and in fact in the next few minutes now I'm going to try to induce in you the audience the same kind or a similar kind of misattribution memory that occurred in the Donald Thompson case okay so you guys are going to be the subjects now maybe we have a few College undergraduates here but probably not everyb... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How are false memories induced in the audience during the word list experiment?

False memories are induced by the speaker's suggestion that certain words were included in the list, leading participants to confidently remember those words despite them not being present.

Q: What is the difference between a free recall test and a recognition test for memory?

In a free recall test, participants are asked to remember as many words as they can from the list. In a recognition test, participants are asked if they remember specific words and are then asked to rate their confidence in their memory for each word.

Q: What is misattribution in the context of memory?

Misattribution occurs when individuals accurately remember the general meaning or gist of an event but incorrectly attribute specific details to it.

Q: How does the word list experiment demonstrate the fallibility of memory?

The experiment shows that participants can confidently remember words that were never included, highlighting how memory can be influenced and distorted by suggestion and misattribution.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • The speaker presents a word list and predicts that the audience will exhibit false memories related to the list.

  • Two memory tests are conducted: free recall and recognition. Many participants falsely remember words not on the list.

  • The misattribution of memory occurs when participants confidently remember words related to the list but not actually included, demonstrating the fallibility of memory.

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