Professor of Psychology and Law University of Washington
True and False Memories in the Repressed Memory Controversy, 9/14/99
Imaginary Memories, 9/16/99
Elizabeth Loftus, Professor of Psychology and adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Washington, is probably the world's foremost authority on problems and errors of memory. Her work bridges the gap between basic science in the classroom and applications in the real world, particularly in the domains of legal and clinical practice.
She is known for demonstrating in the laboratory the possibility of inserting false memories into participants' minds, memories that are sometimes remembered vividly and with high confidence. She has long researched the problems of using eyewitness testimony as a primary basis for our legal system, despite the inaccuracy of such testimony, and the ease with which such memories can be modified by intervening events such as questioning by police. She has also investigated the issue of the accuracy of memories formed in childhood, and the possibility of recovery later in life of memories of traumatic events that had apparently been forgotten (or repressed). She has devoted much research to the possibility that recovered memories may be false, false memories that in some cases are due to therapeutic treatments designed to help patients find them. All of these issues, and their importance for society, have made Dr. Loftus one of the most well-known psychologists in the world today.
Professor Loftus received her B.A. from UCLA, with highest honors, in Mathematics and Psychology, and received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Stanford University in Psychology. She has of course received much recognition by her peers, in the form of honors and election to major posts in the field. The posts include: President of the American Psychological Society, President of Divisions 3 (Experimental) and 41 (Law) of the American Psychological Association, President of the Western Psychological Association, and the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society.
She has received four honorary doctorates, and her awards include the American Academy of Forensic Psychology award for Distinguished Contributions to Forensic Psychology, and the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology award for Distinguished Contribution to Basic and Applied Scientific Psychology. She has served on panels and task forces beyond counting. Her research record runs to 25 pages, with hundreds of scientific articles in journals. She is author or co-author of twenty books. These include several widely-used textbooks on memory, and on statistics, a highly respected book on psychology and the law, and what are probably the leading research tomes on eyewitness testimony, and on repressed memory.