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Memory. 2006 Jul;14(5):595-613.

What people believe about memory.

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  • 1Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, Oslo, Norway.


Two representative samples of adult Norwegians (n=2000) were asked a set of general and specific questions regarding their beliefs and opinions about human memory. The results indicate that on many questions, such as time of the earliest memories, inhibiting effects of collaboration, and memory for dramatic versus ordinary events, the views of the general public concurred with current research findings, and people in general had realistic views about their own memory performance. On other questions, such as the reliability of olfactory as compared with visual and auditory memory, the memory of small children in comparison with that of adults, the likelihood of repression of adult traumatic memories, and on more general questions such as the possibility of training memory and the capacity limitations of long-term memory, a large proportion of the participants expressed views that are less supported by scientific evidence. Implications of these findings are briefly discussed.

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