The University of British Columbia in Canada recently conducted a study involving 60 students that they interviewed over a few weeks. The study consisted of telling the students about two events that the student experienced as a teenager - one event was real and the other was false, but had a few real details included. Caregivers of the students were contacted beforehand to provide details of the student's life for the researchers to use. The study was designed to see if providing false memories with some real personal details would cause the student to create false memories that they firmly believed to be true. This is precisely what happened. Students were overwhelmingly convinced they had committed crimes or were involved in some type of criminal event, even when it had never happened. The researchers did this by providing a few false details and using poor memory-retrieval techniques. This confirmed the hypothesis that the memory is inherently fallible and when people use reconstructive memory processes, they readily develop false recollections that feel just as real as true memories. This conclusion is very important as it underlines the fact that people unconsciously create very detailed, very real-feeling false memories when involving emotional and/or criminal events. The key is that interviewers in criminal interrogation must use "good" memory retrieval techniques in order to obtain true and accurate memories from the interviewee; often though, interviewers style of questioning may contribute to the creation of false memories and cause someone to falsely believe they committed a crime and possibly even confess. Studies such as these will help to point out the weaknesses in interrogations that do not use careful questioning techniques.
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