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New Research Finds That Interrogation Tactics Can Rewrite Memory

Spotless Mind: Interrogation Tactics Can Rewrite Memory

Never forget a face? Chances are you would forget your torturer's. Or, depending on your definition, intense interrogator's.

Data from a mock interrogation study, performed by the US military, shows that 85 percent of soldiers not only identified the wrong man as their interrogator but chose someone who wasn't involved at all. And, they were asked only hours after the questions (and, possibly, physically demanding tasks and light violence) ended.

The finding supports the theory that human memory is unreliable (witnesses in Buffalo said the plane nose-dived when we now know it landed flat) and highly susceptible to suggestion, particularly when presented with misinformation or leading questions. It not only calls into question interrogation techniques but also the entire eyewitness method our legal system is based on.

Psychologists at University of California Irvine believe they are close to discovering the recipe for creating false memories. Good news for smart people, though! The lead psychologist there said that while all are susceptible to memory manipulation, smarter people have an easier time resisting it.


Join The Conversation
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
So does this mean that the people who've accused the US of torturing them are just remembering incorrectly?
janneth janneth 8 years
You might think that the image of a torturer would be burned into one's memory. Guess not.
otaku otaku 8 years
i would assume that some of it has to be put down to dissasociation. when someone is in a very stressful situation they can dissasociate (kind of like going to a happy place in your head) and then forget things from that stressful time. i'm not suprised at all by these findings.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 8 years
Being tortured is just one of those suppressed memories I guess
StolzeMama StolzeMama 8 years
I wonder if minor interrogation tactics can make people believe they were tortured when they weren't?
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
LOL "...the theory that human memory is unreliable and highly susceptible to suggestion." Really?? Who would have known? That just cracks me up.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
there is a movie, called "death and the maiden" starring Ben Kingsley and Sigourney Weaver that takes on the question of "can you remember your interrogator even after many many years" totally recommend it.
nyaradzom2001 nyaradzom2001 8 years
umm i don't know about that if you can bear a grudge over a minor thing for years and still remember the day annie spilled juice on your dress 23 years later i think you'll remember your interrogator
starangel82 starangel82 8 years
Um, okay. Yay for smart people?
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