Book Definition: The distortion of memory by suggestion or misinformation.

History (Optional)

In Your Own Words

  • False, but plausible reasoning that confuses your memory.
  • Something that misleads you to or makes you think differently due to word selection and phrasing.
  • Untrue (but believable) information or altered facts distort memory.
  • Information presented after an event that is misleading but prevents others to believe it is true.


  • Your mom tells you that the stitches on your arm are from when you tripped down the staircase (but you really didn't), you might think that you remember that because it's believable.
  • Using word choice such as "demolished" instead of "defeated" in the sentence" We demolished the team" gives off a more aggressive connotation.
  • when the news reporters use propaganda to tell the public how well American soldiers are doing in Iraq, when there really is more to it.
  • If your parents tell you about your personality when you were little, you don't know if they're lying or not but you believe them since you don't remember yourself.
  • Your older sibling telling a story of when you were little and you begin to think you remember that happening.
  • Telling your friend a story of a fight that you witnessed after school, and although it was just a loud argument you embelish by insisting there was physical contact, suggesting a much bugger deal and that people couldve possibly been injured or hurt.


Dale, Loftus, and Rathbun performed an experiment to prove their hypothesis that when a witness is questioned they are more likely to provide false information on unusual details. For example, they put a teacher in the room who was wearing a hat and let him talk for 5 minutes. When he left the room 20 kids were questioned and asked "In which hand did the teacher hold his hat?" 17 students replied right, 7 replied left, and only 3 said the correct answer that he was wearing it. They did this with numerous details, and asked the question in different forms and they got familiar responses. Thus proving that there are a small percentage of people that can be relied on for correct witness testimonies due to misinformation or suggestibility. Lawyers, police investigators, and psychologist all questioned the process and how reliable it truly is. This experiment shows that children are not accurate witnesses, and the way you form a question can suggest a detail that was false and could get the student to agree to it.

Dale, P. S., Loftus, E. F., & Rathbun, L. (1978). The influence of the form of the question on the eyewitness testimony of preschool children. Journal of Psycholinguistic Research, 7(4), 269-277.
Click on "Look inside" to get the full experiment!

Additional Resources

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