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Study shows ease of implanting false memories of crime

Texas residents may be interested in a study conducted by researchers in Canada and the United Kingdom that found it was not difficult to give people false memories of committing a crime. The research could have implications for people accused of crimes who are interrogated by the police.

The study was done with university students. Researchers obtained detailed information from their primary caregivers about events in the individuals' lives when they were between the ages of 11 and 14, but the caregivers were asked to not share the questionnaire or the information with the students. Students who had never committed a crime then participated in three 40-minute interviews across about three weeks. In the first interview, students were told about one real and one false event in great detail. Researchers wove facts about the students' lives through the false events based on the caregiver interviews. In the next two interviews, the students were asked to recall as much as they could about the events.

Some of the false events were emotional and others were of committing a crime and having contact with the police. Around three-fourths of the students developed false memories of the event. However, there were some differences. Although they described details of the false memory, it notably had less detail than the true event, and the students reported with less confidence.

It is possible that an individual may have confessed to a crime they did not commit if they felt pressured by law enforcement or were fed strategic questions designed to implicate them. If a person feels as though there were wrongly accused, a criminal defense attorney may intervene on their behalf.

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