Keeping things in your memory might be challenging. Many people (including you) recall meeting Bugs Bunny at Disneyland, and although we’d like to think that our memories are reliable, it’s possible that they aren’t. Unfortunately, Bugs Bunny isn’t a Disney creation.
Even more sinister manifestations of this phenomenon do occur. Some believe that the famous case of “Sybil,” a lady diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, is an example of a psychiatrist encouraging fake memories in a patient in order to gain excellent material for a book.
In his book 1984, George Orwell reflected on the potential political use of false memory by having the Oceanian populace believe that they had always been at war with Eurasia while their enemies had always been Eastasia.
New research published in Political Psychology digs further into this phenomenon, focusing on the effect of partisanship on false recollections.
The researchers polled two distinct samples of participants. Every poll started with basic questions on the respondent’s demographics, politics, psychology, and even a quick test of their mental acuity.
After these introductions, the surveys went on to a series of vignettes detailing events or policies that were either true, misattributed, or completely made up.
Eric Holder, an Obama administration official, was quoted in a “misattributed” report as complaining to MSNBC about unfair coverage.
However, a meeting between Trump administration official Bill Barr and Fox News CEO Rupert Murdoch did take place. To say that the Trump administration covered up garbage being thrown in the Great Lakes would be an understatement. Eighteen similar tales were included in each study.
The most surprising discovery was that 30% of respondents recalled events that never happened (which is the right answer), and their false memories were oddly in line with their political leanings.
A larger proportion of Democrats wrongly recalled that the Trump administration had poisoned the Great Lakes on purpose, whereas a larger proportion of Republicans incorrectly recalled that Trump had signed a specific G.I. bill. Measure (which was signed by Obama) (actually signed by Obama).
What factors contribute to the formation of fictitious recollections? The scientists analyzed the obtained data and discovered that faulty recollections were associated with low levels of cognitive ability.
Acceptance of untrue tales was also predicted by an individual’s propensity to see “pseudo-profound nonsense” as profoundly important. Confidence and idiocy often go hand in hand, and narcissism may play a part in both.
Partisanship was also shown to have a role in the formation of false memories, according to the study’s authors. For the sake of making their own party appear good and the other party look bad, members of one political party were more prone to “remember” incidents that never occurred.
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