The Misinformation Effect

The misinformation effect occurs when people’s recollections of events are distorted by information given to them after the event occurred. The psychologist Elizabeth Loftus did influential research on the misinformation effect that showed that memory reconstructions can affect eyewitness testimony.

Example: A bank robber enters a crowded bank in the middle of the day, brandishing a gun. He shoots out the security cameras and terrifies everyone. He is taking money from a teller when one of two security guards approaches the robber, draws his own weapon, and shoots. Suddenly, another shot is fired from a different direction and the security guard falls to the ground, shot. Some of the customers see that the other security guard, who was approaching the robber from the other side, mistakenly shot his partner. Later, police ask the witnesses when the robber shot the guard, and they report that he shot after the guard fired on him. Even though they saw one guard shoot the other, they are swayed by the misinformation given by the police.

The Hindsight Bias

The hindsight bias is the tendency to interpret the past in a way that fits the present. For example, if Laura’s boyfriend cheats on her, she may recall the boyfriend as always having seemed promiscuous, even if this is not true.

The Overconfidence Effect

The overconfidence effect is the tendency people have to overestimate their ability to recall events correctly.

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