Fooled by fake facts? It is not that uncommon, says new research

A study by Warwick University researchers says half of all people are likely to “remember” events that never happened


Around 50 per cent of us are susceptible to believing we have experienced fictitious events, according to new research.

In the study by Warwick University researchers, almost half of people told about a completely fictitious event from their lives accepted that it happened.

The findings come during a time when the scourge of fake facts and news has become a hotly debated issue, with many claiming inaccurate and hyper-partisan news reaches more people, and helped set the stage for Donald Trump’s recent victory in the US presidential election.

In the Warwick study 400 participants had fictitious autobiographical events suggested to them. It was found that around half of the participants believed, to some degree, that they had experienced those events.

The research subjects came to remember a range of false events, such as taking a childhood hot air balloon ride, playing a prank on a teacher, or creating havoc at a family wedding.

The researchers say the findings have significance in many areas – raising questions around the authenticity of memories used in forensic investigations, court rooms, and therapy treatments.

“Moreover, the collective memories of a large group of people or society could be incorrect – due to misinformation in the news, for example – having a striking effect on people’s perceptions and behaviour,” according to the research.

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Related subjects: Psychology