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False Memory: Definition, Examples and Effects

Updated: Jun 23, 2023

False memory is the phenomenon whereby a person remembers something that did not actually happen. It is a form of memory distortion, where a person’s recollection of an event is inaccurate or distorted. False memories can be created through suggestion, imagination, or repetition of an event. It is a common occurrence and can have a significant impact on a person’s life. Understanding false memory and its effects can help people recognize and address it when it occurs.


False memories can be created in a variety of ways. For example, a person may be exposed to a suggestion that an event occurred, such as a traumatic experience, and then begin to believe that it actually happened. Another example is when a person is exposed to a repeated suggestion, such as a story or advertisement, and begins to believe that it is true.


False memories can have a significant impact on a person’s life. They can lead to feelings of guilt, anxiety, and depression. False memories can also lead to false accusations and false confessions. In some cases, false memories can even lead to legal issues, such as wrongful convictions. It is important to recognize and address false memories when they occur in order to avoid potential negative consequences.

Do you want to expand your knowledge on this topic? Read our full in-depth article on cognitive biases.

Do you have extra 15 minutes today? Take our fun and interactive quiz to learn which of 16 reasoning styles you use, your overall level of rationality, and what you can do now to improve your rationality skills.


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