Memories Can Be Altered by Reading Stories
by Henry Reed


Your memories of the past, not to mention those past life memories you cherish, could be influenced, if not created by, stories you've read in the past. This fragility and suggestibility of our memory system was demonstrated by a University of Washington researcher team who found that students' memories were easily influenced. After interviewing students about whether or not as a child they had ever been lost in a mall or picked on as a bully, they invited those who said no to both items back for another experiment involving "reading comprehension." Among the reading material was a brief story about a child being lost in a mall or being picked on by a bully, or neither. When these students were interviewed later, and asked again whether or not as a child they had ever had these experiences, those students whose reading "tests" included a story about one of those events were significantly more likely to claim that they had had such an experience themselves.

The researchers suggest that we participate in stories we read, and such participation becomes part of our archive of experiences, easily confused with memories of actual events.



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