Most of us think of our memory like a personal video recorder. When you remember something, it’s like sitting down in the theater of your own mind and pressing play.
Except, that’s not how memory works. Research Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus knows first hand.
When Loftus was 44 years old, her uncle told her that as a child she discovered her mother in the pool after an accidental drowning. Loftus had no memory of seeing her mom’s body, but she trusted her uncle.
Before long, she started remembering. She could picture details of the day. How her mom was dressed. Even the lights of the police cars.
Which is odd because, as it turns out, her uncle was mistaken. Loftus didn’t witness any of it. Instead, her mind created memories to match what her uncle said.
That’s memory for you. We think of it as an accurate recording, but Loftus is famous for her research that shows how bad eye-witness accounts can be. It turns out, our memories are surprisingly malleable.
Memories change over time. They morph and combine. Sometimes we add to them. Sometimes we edit details out. Even otherwise honest folks have been known to fabricate entire scenes, believing something happened that never did.
Okay, so there’s A LOT we could explore here, but let’s narrow our focus. How does this affect your relationship?
That depends entirely on how much you let it.
Below are two tips for minimizing the impact of less-than-accurate memories—yours AND his! If you’re tired of he-said-she-said fights, keep reading.