People depend on their memories for many reasons, from trying to remember their daily tasks to reminiscing about happier times.
It could be said that people’s memories define who they are, because their memories influence their personality based on past experiences, people they have met, and so on. Because of the importance of memory, we assume that our memories are perfectly reliable, unfortunately much research proves otherwise. Ultimately, not only can memories be questionable but they can be completely false as well with regards to just how people remember.
Psychology has demonstrated that our minds can be manipulated in how people memorize and remember events.
One particular study explained that their results inducing false memories of criminal acts in their subjects was influenced by exposure to misinformation given by interviewers (leading to memory distortions) and malleable reconstructive mechanisms (needed to remember events). The study proved that a person’s memory is not rigid and unchangeable, but can be affected by outside factors such as other people and the environment. This may have been a factor in such problems as false confessions by people who were incorrectly remembering their involvement (or even lack of involvement) in a crime. However, while malleable memories can not only be used negatively, they can also be used for healing trauma by preventing traumatic memories from invading a person’s mind. One psychological study proved that the frequency of intrusive memories caused by experimental trauma could be reduced by disrupting reconsolidation (process of remembering) through a cognitive task that required a person’s attention.