From Jonah Lehrer:
One week later, all the subjects were quizzed about their memory of the product. Here’s where things get disturbing: While students who saw the low-imagery ad were extremely unlikely to report having tried the popcorn, those who watched the slick commercial were just as likely to have said they tried the popcorn as those who actually did. Furthermore, their ratings of the product were as favorable as those who sampled the salty, buttery treat. Most troubling, perhaps, is that these subjects were extremely confident in these made-up memories. The delusion felt true. They didn’t like the popcorn because they’d seen a good ad. They liked the popcorn because it was delicious.
The article is interesting, you should check it out. These stories always sound impossible to believe. It just doesn’t seem so easy to manipulate memories. But it’s not all that surprising when you think about it.
- You have dreams where impossible things happen, where people you know have changed dramatically out of the blue, or where your life is completely changed. And when you have a dream like that you say “this is strange” and then you accept it as true and go on. It’s incredibly easy for you to believe in impossible things. And often you do it by convincing yourself that in fact its been like this all along.
- False memories sound impossible, but on the other hand we forget things all the time. Forgetting something is not all that different from a false memory. “Where did you put your keys?” “I didn’t put them anywhere. Somebody else must have put them somewhere.” And then you find the keys and remember that in fact you did put them there. You have not just forgotten something but you have believed in the false memory that the thing never happened.