I saw a video on how interrogators used manipulation on the victim/criminal which lead to innocent people being arrested and one way of doing that was using false memories in which the person was giving altered facts about what happened to the point where the person really thinks they did the crime. Even people with hsam(highly superior autobiographical memory) were more susceptible to false memories. Is there any way to avoid having false memories.

  • $\begingroup$ based on how memory works, the answer is almost certainly no. $\endgroup$
    – theMayer
    Commented Feb 3, 2015 at 4:57
  • $\begingroup$ I hope my answer helps, I couldn't really find any articles about more real-life situations like the one you have described though $\endgroup$
    – queenslug
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 13:19
  • $\begingroup$ Another effective way of escaping from illusions and false memory is using imagery. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented Jun 8, 2018 at 9:00

1 Answer 1


Several studies using word lists have tried to see if informing participants of false recall would make them less likely to form false memories, results are a little mixed:

1) Although subjects were not able to perform accurately under these conditions, the warning instruction did attenuate the false recognition effect. This illusion of memory appears to be remarkably robust and little affected by the instructional manipulations.

2) forewarning did not eliminate the false recognition effect, as these subjects and those in the other groups made numerous false recognitions in this task.

3) When a warning about false recall was provided, young adults virtually eliminated false recall by the second trial. Even though old adults also used warnings to reduce false recall on Trial 1, they were unable to decrease false memories across the remaining four study–test trials. Old adults also reduced false recall more with slower presentation rates. These findings suggest that old adults have a breakdown in spontaneous, self-initiated source monitoring as reflected by little change in false recall across study–test trials but a preserved ability to use warnings and slow presentation rates to reduce false memories.


1) McDermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L. (1998). Attempting to avoid illusory memories: Robust false recognition of associates persists under conditions of explicit warnings and immediate testing. Journal of Memory and Language, 39(3), 508-520.

2) Gallo, D. A., Roberts, M. J., & Seamon, J. G. (1997). Remembering words not presented in lists: Can we avoid creating false memories?. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 4(2), 271-276.

3) Watson, J. M., Mcdermott, K. B., & Balota, D. A. (2004). Attempting to avoid false memories in the Deese/Roediger—McDermott paradigm: Assessing the combined influence of practice and warnings in young and old adults. Memory & Cognition, 32(1), 135-141.


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