Misinformation Effect: How to create false memories

At You Are not So Smart:

The Misconception: Memories are played back like recordings.

The Truth: Memories are constructed anew each time from whatever information is currently available, which makes things like eyewitness testimony unreliable.

Take out a piece of paper and get ready to write.

Really do it; it will be fun.


Now, read this list of words out loud one time and then try to write as many of them as you can remember on the paper without looking back. When you think you have them all, look back.

Don’t read past the block of words until you’ve finished.


door, glass, pane, shade, ledge, sill, house, open, curtain, frame, view, breeze, sash, screen, shutter

Now, take a look at the list. How did you do?

Did you write down all the words?

Did you write the word window down?

If presented properly, 85 percent of people will remember seeing window in the list, but it isn’t there.

If you did, you just gave yourself a false memory thanks to the misinformation effect.


Author: Father Silouan Thompson

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