“The Illusion of Memory”
Recently, I conducted a mediation involving the purchase and sale of a used vehicle several years ago. The consumer was suing the used car dealer for its alleged failure to disclose certain information about the used vehicle prior to the sale.
I listened to each party’s story including all of the salient facts as each party recalled them, and then summarized to that party what I just heard to make sure I understand it all correctly. As often happens, the factual recitations greatly differed; after listening to each side and comparing what each told me, I wondered if they were talking about the same transaction. When I gently suggested to each side, that the other party’s version was completely different, the response I received was that the other side was lying. When I tried to suggest to that party that perhaps her memory was less than completely accurate, I was totally rebuffed; each side was adamant that her own memory was completely accurate (Indeed, the facts are the facts as one side was quick to tell me!) and the other was lying.
Recently, I finished reading The Invisible Gorilla (How Our Intuitions Deceive Us) by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons (Broadway Paperbacks, 2009). In chapter 2, they discuss the “illusion of memory: the disconnect between how we think memory works and how it actually works.”(emphasis original.) (Id. at 45.) That is, there is “… a basic contrast between what we think we remember and what we actually remember….The illusion of memory happens when what we remember is different from what we think we remember.” (Id. at 46.)
Why does this occur? As the authors explain, “Memory depends on what actually happened and on how we made sense of what happened.” (Id. at 47.) In short:
When we perceive something, we extract the meaning from what we see (or hear, or smell…) rather than encode everything in perfect detail. … ------------------------------------- If you would like to receive this blog automatically by e mail each week, please click on one of the following plugins/services:
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