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10 Ways Your Memory Is Completely Inaccurate


6
Repeated Exposure
The more times you're fed false information, the more likely you'll think you remembered seeing or hearing it as true elsewhere. © 2015 HowStuffWorks, a division of Infospace LLC
The more times you're fed false information, the more likely you'll think you remembered seeing or hearing it as true elsewhere. © 2015 HowStuffWorks, a division of Infospace LLC

The theory of repeated exposure creating false memories is linked with suggestibility and implanted memories. As you read earlier, if someone asks you leading questions, you might "remember" an event that never occurred. Similarly, if someone tells you President Obama is a Muslim, and you're a conservative who doesn't care for him, you may falsely remember reading an article about the president attending services in a mosque. Repeated exposure takes these concepts a step further, saying that the more times you're fed misinformation or leading questions, the more likely you are to swear a particular memory is true.

In one study conducted by researchers at Kent State University, subjects were shown a video of a burglary, then asked questions with misleading suggestions. Some of these were repeated. Later, the subjects were asked how they knew certain pieces of information about the burglary. The subjects were more likely to say they learned this information from the video, even if it wasn't in there, if the information was suggested to them more than once in the follow-up questioning. Even a week later, many subjects were still positive they had learned the repeatedly-suggested information from the video [source: Zaragoza and Mitchell].