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Are the 'Memory Wars' Over? A Scientist-Practitioner Gap in Beliefs About Repressed Memory

40 Pages Posted: 15 Dec 2013 Last revised: 6 Mar 2014

Lawrence Patihis

University of Southern Mississippi

Lavina Y. Ho

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Behaviorial Sciences & Education

Ian W. Tingen

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior

Scott O. Lilienfeld

Emory University - Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior; University of California, Irvine School of Law

Date Written: October 7, 2013

Abstract

The “memory wars” of the 1990s refers to the controversy between some clinicians and memory scientists about the reliability of repressed memories. To investigate whether such disagreement persists, we compared various groups’ beliefs about memory and compared their current beliefs with beliefs expressed in past studies. In Study 1, we found high rates of belief in repressed memory among undergraduates. We also found that greater critical-thinking ability was associated with more skepticism about repressed memories. In Study 2, we found less belief in repressed memory among mainstream clinicians today compared with the 1990s. Groups that contained research-oriented psychologists and memory experts expressed more skepticism about the validity of repressed memories relative to other groups. Thus, a substantial gap between the memory beliefs of clinical-psychology researchers and those of practitioners persists today. These results hold implications for the potential resolution of the science-practice gap and for the dissemination of memory research in the training of mental-health professionals.

Keywords: memory beliefs, repressed memory, hypnosis, clinical psychology, individual differences

Suggested Citation

Patihis, Lawrence and Ho, Lavina Y. and Tingen, Ian W. and Lilienfeld, Scott O. and Loftus, Elizabeth F., Are the 'Memory Wars' Over? A Scientist-Practitioner Gap in Beliefs About Repressed Memory (October 7, 2013). Psychological Science, Vol.25, No.2, 2014, pp.519-530; UC Irvine School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-7. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2367609

Lawrence Patihis (Contact Author)

University of Southern Mississippi ( email )

Hattiesburg, MS 39406
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.usm.edu/psychology/faculty/lawrence-patihis

Lavina Y. Ho

Pennsylvania State University - Department of Behaviorial Sciences & Education ( email )

University Park
State College, PA 16802
United States

Ian W. Tingen

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

Campus Drive
Irvine, CA 62697-3125
United States

Scott O. Lilienfeld

Emory University - Emory College of Arts and Sciences ( email )

Department of Violence Studies
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Elizabeth F. Loftus

University of California, Irvine - Department of Psychology and Social Behavior ( email )

4201 Social & Behavioral Sciences Gateway
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-7085
United States

University of California, Irvine School of Law

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

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