Reconstruction of automobile destruction: An example of the interaction between language and memory

Author: Loftus, E.F.; Palmer, J.C.

Description: Two experiments are reported in which subjects viewed films of automobile accidents and then answered questions about events occurring in the films. The question, “About how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” elicited higher estimates of speed than questions which used the verbs collided, bumped, contacted, or hit in place of smashed. On a retest one week later, those subjects who received the verb smashed were more likely to say “yes” to the question, “Did you see any broken glass?”, even though broken glass was not present in the film. These results are consistent with the view that the questions asked subsequent to an event can cause a reconstruction in one’s memory of that event.

Subject headings: Automobile accidents; Films; Reconstruction; Memory; Questions

Publication year: 1974

Journal or book title: Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior

Volume: 13

Issue: 5

Pages: 585-589

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Type: Journal Article

Serial number: 2179