California residents may be interested to learn that a study involving student volunteers has suggested that false memories can be planted in the minds of people being prompted to remember past events. In a society where it is increasingly common to question the validity of courtroom witnesses and the integrity of police interrogations, it may be concerning to know that people can be led to believe that they have been present in situations that never happened and had reactions and feelings to it that they did not actually experience.
The study involved gathering information about the pasts of the student volunteers and then having them answer questions about a few of these situations over the course of three interviews. The interviewer also included questions about one false event that either had a criminal or emotional element to it that the students were led to believe actually occurred in their past.
During the initial interview, the students were provided with a few details and prompted to recall the false event, but they were not able to elaborate on it. As the interviews progressed, a lot of the students were able to remember the false event with certainty. About seventy percent of students remembered their false crimes, a little more than half were able to remember their fabricated assaults and over seventy-five percent could recall fake emotional memories.
In light of the false memory study, having an attorney present may prevent a suspected person from falsely admitting to a crime under the pressure of an interrogation. If a person has been arrested or is a suspect in a crime and anticipates being questioned by police, an attorney may be contacted. An attorney could guide their client through what questions are appropriate to answer and dissuade them from answering incriminating questions.