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7 Biases that change our memories

We edit and reinforce some memories after the fact

During that process, memories can become stronger, however various details can also get accidentally swapped. We sometimes accidentally inject a detail into the memory that wasn’t there before.

Misattribution of Memory

The ability to remember information correctly, but being wrong about the source of that information.

Includes the following three sub-effects:

  • Source Confusion

Source confusion is an attribute seen in different people’s accounts of the same event after hearing people speak about the situation. An example of this would be a witness who heard a police officer say he had a gun and then that witness later says they saw the gun even though they didn’t. The source of the memory is the police officer’s testimony, not actual perception.

  • Cryptomnesia

Individuals mistakenly believe that they are the original generators of the thought.

  • False Memory

False memories occur when a person’s identity and interpersonal relationships are strongly centered around a memory of an experience that did not actually take place. False memories are often the result of leading questions in a therapeutic practice termed Recovered Memory Therapy. In this practice, psychiatrists often put their patients under hypnosis to recover repressed memories. This can be detrimental, as the individual may recall memories that never occurred.

Spacing Effect

The phenomenon whereby learning is greater when studying is spread out over time, as opposed to studying the same amount of content in a single session.


The quality of being inclined to accept and act on the suggestions of others where false but plausible information is given and one fills in the gaps in certain memories with false information when recalling a scenario or moment. When the subject has been persistently told something about a past event, his or her memory of the event conforms to the repeated message.

Related. Misinformation Effect, False Memory

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