Elizabeth Loftus

Summary

Elizabeth F. Loftus (born 1944) is an American psychologist who is best known in relation to the misinformation effect, false memory and criticism of recovered memory therapies.[1]

Elizabeth Loftus

Born
Elizabeth Fishman

October 16, 1944 (1944-10-16)
Bel Air, California, United States
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma mater
Scientific career
FieldsHuman memory
Institutions

Loftus's research includes the effects of phrasing on the perceptions of automobile accidents, the "lost in the mall" technique and the manipulation of food preferences through the use of false memories. In the Jane Doe case that began in 1997, Loftus and Melvin J. Guyer revealed serious concerns about the background and validity of the initial research. She has also served on the executive council of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and was a keynote speaker at the British Psychological Society's 2011 annual conference.

As well as her scientific work, Loftus has provided expert testimony or consultation for the lawyers on over 300 court cases,[1] including for the legal teams of Ghislaine Maxwell, Harvey Weinstein and Robert Durst. She has also written many books, including The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories & Allegations of Sexual Abuse[2] and Witness for the Defense.[3]

Early lifeEdit

Born Elizabeth Fishman on October 16, 1944,[4] Loftus grew up in a Jewish family in Bel Air, California.[5][6]: Part II Her father (Sidney Fishman) was a doctor and her mother (Rebecca Fishman) a librarian.[7][6]: Part II[8]: Ch. 2 : 2 When Loftus was 14 years old, her mother drowned.[6]: Part II

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1966,[8]: 15 followed by a master's and PhD in mathematical psychology from Stanford University in 1967 and 1970 respectively.[6]: Part II Her thesis was entitled "An Analysis of the Structural Variables That Determine Problem-Solving Difficulty on a Computer-Based Teletype".[8]: 2 

From 1968 to 1991, Elizabeth was married to fellow psychologist Geoffrey Loftus.[6][8]: 31 

CareerEdit

1970 to 1989Edit

From 1970 to 1973, Loftus was employed as a cognitive psychologist at the New School for Social Research in New York City,[8]: 17  after becoming dissatisfied with university work such as calibrating math and word problems for fifth-grade students.[8]: 17  At the time, she had also been investigating semantic memory with Professor Jonathan Freedman at Stanford University.[8]: 17 

Loftus was employed at the University of Washington from 1973 to 2001, initially as an assistant professor. She shifted from laboratory work to using "real world" situations of criminal court cases.[1][6]: Part II

Around this time, the Department of Transport was offering funding for research into car accidents. Loftus's first experiment in this area involved showing 45 students videos of car crashes and then asking the students to estimate the speed of the car.[6][9] Her findings were that the mean estimates of the speeds were 32 mph when the question was phrased as the speed that the cars "collided", 34 mph when the question was phrased as "hit each other" instead, and 41 mph when the question was phrased as "smashed each other".[10] Loftus concluded that "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".[10]

In 1974, Loftus published two articles with her observations about the conflicting eyewitness accounts in a particular murder trial and about the reliability of witness testimony in general.[1][6] This resulted in several lawyers contacting her about current cases, beginning her career of paid work providing advice to lawyers.[6]: Part III: 66 Early attempts for Loftus to act as an expert witness for these lawyers were deemed inadmissible by judges, however in June 1975 Loftus presented the first expert witness testimony in Washington State on the topic of eyewitness identification.[1]: Sec. 2

1990 to 1996Edit

In 1990, George Franklin was on trial for murdering a young girl 20 years prior. The prosecution's evidence included eyewitness testimony from Franklin's daughter that she had witnessed the murder, based on a recovered memory which was unearthed during a therapy session a year before the trial.[6] The defense attorney had a theory that the daughter had never seen the crime and that the testimony was based on a false memory. Loftus was employed by the attorney to provide expert testimony in support of this theory. Loftus referred to an experiment where she showed people video of a crime and then an incorrect television news report about the crime. Afterwards, the viewers had mixed up some events from the original video with those in the news report. Loftus argued that the same must have happened to Franklin's daughter, causing a "memory" of an event that she hadn't witnessed.[6]

However, the prosecutor forced Loftus to admit that she had never studied memories like those of Franklin's daughter. Loftus's studies found that people could misidentify random perpetrators, not that they could mistakenly accuse their own fathers. It was also not proven that memories could be wholly invented, rather than altered. The prosecution was successful and Franklin was convicted.[6]: Part IV

In 1991 there were several high-profile examples of people having recovered memories of being molested by their parents, which gained Loftus's attention.[6] Loftus read several books[which?] teaching women and therapists how to recover memories of sexual abuse, and urging therapists to ask their clients about childhood incest.[6]: Part IV  Also in 1991, Loftus was deemed an honorary fellow of the British Psychological Society.[11]

Around this time, Loftus's undergraduate student Jim Coan developed the "lost in the mall" technique.[6]: Part II This technique involved Coan giving his younger brother three stories of actual events from his childhood, plus a false story about the brother being lost in a mall. The younger brother believed all stories to be true and provided further details of the false story.[6]

A similar experiment by Loftus found that 25% of subjects believed that they could remember the event which had never taken place, however this study was criticized by Lynn Crook and Martha Dean based on the ethics of the subject recruitment method used[12] and Kenneth Pope has argued she inappropriately generalized the findings to draw conclusions about false memories and therapeutic techniques.[12][13] A later study by Loftus (involving 332 undergraduate students who received course credit for participating) found that approximately one third of students accepted as true a false story about having their ear licked by a drug-addled Pluto character during a childhood visit to Disneyland.[14]

Following the publication of these studies, armed guards accompanied Loftus at lectures.[6]: Part IV Also, Loftus had previously received death threats after the publication of her 1994 book The Myth of Repressed Memory.[15]: 1 The same year, Loftus received an In Praise of Reason award from the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[16]

In the 1997 New Hampshire vs Joel Hungerford case, the judge set strict conditions on the admissibility of recovered memory testimony.[17][18]

1997 to 2000Edit

In 1997, psychiatrists David Corwin and Erna Olafson published a case study of a recovered memory of apparently genuine childhood sexual abuse,[15][19][20] which became known as the Jane Doe case. Loftus and Melvin Guyer interviewed Jane's stepmother who revealed that she was involved in building a case against Jane's mother in a battle for custody of Jane.[6][15] Jane contacted the University of Washington and accused Loftus of breaching her privacy.[6][21] The university put Loftus under investigation, including confiscating her files. The investigation lasted for 21 months, during which she was not allowed to share her findings.[6][15][21] The university cleared Loftus of breaking research protocols, and Loftus and Guyer published their findings in 2002.[6][21][22][23]

Loftus's invitation to give the keynote address at the New Zealand Psychological Society's conference in August 2000 provoked the society's director of scientific affairs, John Read, to resign from his position and for conference attendees to distribute materials critical of Loftus' work.[24] Loftus stated that she "didn't wear her best jacket" to give her address for "fear of flying tomatoes".[24] Prior to the conference, Loftus was the subject of several internet posts by conspiracy theorist Diana Napolis which alleged that Loftus was conspiring to help child molesters.[25]

2001 to presentEdit

By 2001, Loftus had become disappointed with the University of Washington's unwillingness to stand by her during the controversy involving the Jane Doe case, so she left the university.[6][15] The same year, Loftus received a William James Fellow Award from the Association for Psychological Science.[21][26]

From 2001 to 2003, Loftus worked for the University of California, Irvine, (UCI) as a distinguished professor in the department of Criminology, Law and Society and the department of Psychological Science.[27][28] She was also a fellow in the UCI Department of Cognitive Sciences and the Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory.[29][30] Her work included an experiment on 131 undergraduate students in relation to preferences for cookies and strawberry ice cream.[1][6] The students were given false information that they had become sick from these foods when they were under 10 years old, and were asked before and afterwards to rate the likelihood of this event having occurred.[31]

In 2002, Loftus was ranked 58th in the Review of General Psychology's list of the 100 most influential psychological researchers of the 20th century.[32] The following year, Loftus received the American Psychological Association's award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology and presented the associated speech at 2003 APA's convention. Also in 2003, Loftus was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[citation needed]

In 2003, the Taus v. Loftus case in the Supreme Court of California saw Loftus, Melvin J. Guyer and Skeptical Inquirer magazine being sued by Nicole Taus regarding the article they published about her case.[6] The lawsuit included 21 claims of defamation, invasion of privacy, infliction of emotional distress and fraud. Initially, all but one of the claims was dismissed. The remaining claim was regarding Loftus misrepresenting herself as Corwin's colleague and supervisor while interviewing Taus's foster mother.[33][34] In August 2007, the remaining claim was withdrawn by Taus, after reaching an agreement that Loftus's insurance company would pay a settlement of $7,500 to Nicole Taus. The following year, Loftus published her studies on the case.[35][36]

In 2004, she attempted to implant a false memory in Alan Alda on Scientific American Frontiers.[37] Alda did not accept the false memory of becoming sick as a child from eating a hard-boiled egg. Loftus stated that Alda's questionnaire result changing from 1 to 2 (out of 8) from "definitely don't happen" to "happened" supported the false memory theory.[38] The variance in Alda's pre- and post-experiment responses was not stated. Loftus attended and was a speaker at the Beyond Belief symposium in November 2006.[39] In 2005, she received the Grawemeyer Award for psychology from the University of Louisville,[40] the 2010 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.[41]

From 2011 to[when?], Loftus was on the executive council of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[42] Loftus was a keynote speaker at the British Psychological Society's annual conference in 2011, held in Glasgow on May 4–6.[43]

In June 2013, Loftus presented at the TEDGlobal Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.[44][45] She was also the keynote speaker at the 2013 Psychonomic Society annual meeting, held in Toronto, Canada, on November 14–16.[46] In 2016, Loftus received the John Maddox Prize,[47] In 2015, Loftus received an honorary doctorate in psychology from Goldsmiths, University of London.[48][49] In 2018, she won the Western Psychological Association's Lifetime Achievement Award[50] and the University College Dublin's Ulysses Medal.[51]

Involvement in legal casesEdit

Loftus has testified in over 300 cases,[52] and consulted on many more.[1][6] Her involvement in legal cases includes:

Loftus has also been involved with the cases for Ted Bundy, O.J. Simpson, Rodney King, Oliver North, Martha Stewart, Lewis Libby, Michael Jackson, the Menendez brothers and the Oklahoma City bombers.[6][56]

PublicationsEdit

Loftus has written or co-authored many journal articles and books, including the 1987 paper co-written with Jane Goodman titled "How to Play to the Jury You Select"[57] and the 1994 book titled The Myth of Repressed Memory.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Zagorski, N. (2005). "Profile of Elizabeth F. Loftus". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102 (39): 13721–13723. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10213721Z. doi:10.1073/pnas.0506223102. PMC 1236565. PMID 16172386.
  2. ^ Loftus, Dr Elizabeth; Ketcham, Katherine (June 25, 2013). The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse. St. Martin's Publishing Group. ISBN 9781466848863. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  3. ^ Loftus, Elizabeth; Ketcham, Katherine (1991). Witness for the Defense: The Accused, the Eyewitness, and the Expert Who Puts Memory On Trial. New York: St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-08455-2. OCLC 22489732. Retrieved December 26, 2021.
  4. ^ Loftus, E.; Jacobsen, S.D. (April 22, 2013). "Elizabeth Loftus: Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology, and Professor of Law, and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Irvine". In-Sight (2.A): 24–39. Archived from the original on October 23, 2014. Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  5. ^ "Evidence-based Justice Acknowledges Our Corrupt Memories". Scientific American. Archived from the original on January 5, 2015. Retrieved August 14, 2019. Loftus, herself Jewish, declined to testify because she worried that it would upset family and friends.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Saletan, William (June 4, 2010). "The memory doctor: the future of false memories". Slate. Archived from the original on May 16, 2019. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  7. ^ "Elizabeth Loftus - Psychology History, on the webpage of Muskingum University (archived copy)". Archived from the original on May 20, 2003. Retrieved November 18, 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Garry, Maryanne; Hayne, Harlene (May 13, 2013). Do Justice and Let the Sky Fall: Elizabeth F. Loftus and Her Contributions to Science, Law, and Academic Freedom. Psychology Press. ISBN 978-1-134-81186-1. Retrieved February 5, 2022.
  9. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - Mind Changers, Elizabeth Loftus and Eye Witness Testimony". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  10. ^ a b Loftus, EF; Palmer JC (1974). "Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction: An Example of the Interaction Between Language and Memory" (PDF). Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior. 13 (5): 585–9. doi:10.1016/S0022-5371(74)80011-3. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 8, 2019. Retrieved December 15, 2015.
  11. ^ "Founders, Fellows, Presidents, and Members". British Psychological Society. n.d. Archived from the original on January 22, 2022. Retrieved January 22, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Crook, L.; Dean, Martha (1999). ""Lost in a Shopping Mall"–A Breach of Professional Ethics". Ethics & Behavior. 9 (1): 39–50. doi:10.1207/s15327019eb0901_3. PMID 11657487. Archived from the original on August 30, 2019. Retrieved January 18, 2008.
  13. ^ Pope, K. (1996). "Memory, Abuse, and Science: Questioning Claims about the False Memory Syndrome Epidemic". American Psychologist. 51 (9): 957–974. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.51.9.957. PMID 8819364. Archived from the original on January 13, 2008. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  14. ^ Berkowitz, SR; Laney, C; Morris, EK; Garry, M; Loftus, EF (2008). "Pluto behaving badly: false beliefs and their consequences" (PDF). The American Journal of Psychology. 121 (4): 643–60. doi:10.2307/20445490. JSTOR 20445490. PMID 19105582. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  15. ^ a b c d e Abramsky, S (August 19, 2004). "Memory and Manipulation: The trials of Elizabeth Loftus, defender of the wrongly accused". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on January 6, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
  16. ^ Karr, Barry (1994). "Five Honored with CSICOP Awards". Skeptical Inquirer. 18 (5): 461–462. Retrieved January 22, 2022.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)}}
  17. ^ "The State of NH v. Joel Hungerford , The State of NH v. John A. Morahan". www.law.justia.com. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  18. ^ "Recovered Memory Project » Harrison Pope Loses Again; Murray Huber, Guilty". www.brown.edu. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  19. ^ Tavris, Carol (2008). "Whatever Happened to 'Jane Doe'?". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 32, no. 1. pp. 28–30. ISSN 0194-6730. Archived from the original on February 4, 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2010.
  20. ^ Corwin, D.; Olafson E. (1997). "Videotaped Discovery of a Reportedly Unrecallable Memory of Child Sexual Abuse: Comparison with a Childhood Interview Videotaped 11 Years Before". Child Maltreatment. 2 (2): 91–112. doi:10.1177/1077559597002002001. S2CID 143444117.
  21. ^ a b c d Tavris, C (2002). "The high cost of skepticism". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 26, no. 4. pp. 41–44. Archived from the original on January 30, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2011.
  22. ^ Loftus, E.F.; Guyer, M. (May–June 2002). "Who abused Jane Doe?: The hazards of the single case history. Part I". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 26, no. 3. pp. 24–32.
  23. ^ Loftus, E. F.; Guyer, M. J. (July–August 2002). "Who abused Jane Doe? Part II". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 26, no. 4. pp. 37–40, 44.
  24. ^ a b Taylor, Annette (November 1, 2000). "A Good Time Was Had By All". NZ Skeptics. Archived from the original on March 6, 2016. Retrieved November 11, 2016.
  25. ^ Bocij, Paul (2004). Cyberstalking: harassment in the Internet age and how to protect your family. New York: Praeger Publishers. p. 34. ISBN 978-0-275-98118-1. Retrieved February 12, 2022.
  26. ^ "William James Fellow Award: Elizabeth Loftus, University of California, Irvine". Association for Psychological Science. Archived from the original on March 10, 2004. Retrieved January 20, 2009.
  27. ^ "Elizabeth F. Loftus faculty page". University of California, Irvine. n.d. Archived from the original on December 17, 2007. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  28. ^ "Center for Psychology and Law Faculty". University of California, Irvine. n.d. Archived from the original on January 28, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  29. ^ "Elizabeth F. Loftus: Award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology" (PDF). American Psychologist. 58 (11): 864–73. 2003. doi:10.1037/0003-066X.58.11.864. PMID 14609373. Archived (PDF) from the original on June 19, 2018. Retrieved July 8, 2004.
  30. ^ "CNLM Fellows at UC Irvine". University of California, Irvine. n.d. Archived from the original on November 7, 2012. Retrieved June 12, 2012.
  31. ^ Bernstein, D. M.; Laney, C.; Morris, E. K.; Loftus, E. F. (2005). "Inaugural Article: False beliefs about fattening foods can have healthy consequences". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 102 (39): 13724–13731. Bibcode:2005PNAS..10213724B. doi:10.1073/pnas.0504869102. PMC 1236554. PMID 16079200.
  32. ^ Haggbloom, SJ; Warnick R; Warnick JE; Jones VK; Yarbrough GL; Russell TM; Borecky CM; McGahhey R; Powell JL; Beavers J; Monte E (2002). "The 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century". Rev. Gen. Psychol. 6 (2): 139–152. doi:10.1037/1089-2680.6.2.139. S2CID 145668721.
  33. ^ John D. Zelezny, Communications Law: Liberties, Restraints, and the Modern Media 210-11 (2010)
  34. ^ Bob Egelko, "Top state court rules in key privacy case", San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2007, at B2.
  35. ^ Loftus, Elizabeth (May 2008). "Perils of Provocative Scholarship". APS Observer. Vol. 21, no. 5. pp. 13–15. ISSN 1050-4672. Archived from the original on February 23, 2012. Retrieved May 30, 2008.
  36. ^ Loftus E; Geis G (2009). "Taus v. Loftus: Determining the Legal Ground Rules for Scholarly Inquiry". Journal of Forensic Psychology Practice. 9 (2): 147–62. doi:10.1080/15228930802575524. S2CID 143809047.
  37. ^ "Elizabeth Loftus, on season 14, episode 2". Scientific American Frontiers. Chedd-Angier Production Company. 2004. PBS. Archived from the original on 2006.
  38. ^ "Scientific American Frontiers - Season 14". www.chedd-angier.com. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  39. ^ "TSN: Beyond Belief: Science, Reason, Religion & Survival". Thesciencenetwork.org. Archived from the original on March 22, 2009. Retrieved April 14, 2012.
  40. ^ "2005- Elizabeth Loftus". Archived from the original on May 18, 2015.
  41. ^ "False Memory Investigator Elizabeth Loftus Receives 2010 Scientific Freedom and Responsibility Award". American Association for the Advancement of Science. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
  42. ^ "CSI Adds to Executive Council". Skeptical Inquirer. May 5, 2011. Archived from the original on May 9, 2011. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  43. ^ Loftus, E. (May 2011). "Abstract Details: Conference Proceedings: 2011 BPS Annual Conference". British Psychological Society (BPS). Manufacturing Memories. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
  44. ^ "How reliable is your memory?". TED. June 2013. Archived from the original on March 10, 2014. Retrieved May 18, 2021.
  45. ^ Loftus, Elizabeth (June 2013). "How reliable is your memory?". Retrieved February 19, 2022.
  46. ^ Abstracts of the Psychonomic Society: 54th Annual Meeting (PDF), vol. 18, Psychonomic Society, November 2013, p. cover, archived from the original (PDF) on December 3, 2013
  47. ^ Sample, Ian (November 17, 2016). "'We can't let the bullies win': Elizabeth Loftus awarded 2016 John Maddox Prize". The Guardian. Archived from the original on November 18, 2016. Retrieved November 17, 2016.
  48. ^ Loftus, Elizabeth. "Illusions of Memory". Skeptical Inquirer. Vol. 40, no. 1. pp. 22–23.
  49. ^ "Honorary Degree for top psychologist Elizabeth Loftus". University of London. Goldsmiths. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 12, 2015.
  50. ^ "WPA Awards and Fellows Information". WPA Web Site. n.d. Archived from the original on May 17, 2019. Retrieved May 17, 2019.
  51. ^ "Loftus Receives Dublin's Ulysses Medal". Skeptical Inquirer. 43 (2): 10. 2019.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  52. ^ a b "Harvey Weinstein trial: Memory expert and UC Irvine professor Elizabeth Loftus testifies for defense". Los Angeles Times. February 7, 2020. Retrieved February 18, 2022.
  53. ^ Queally, James (August 9, 2021). "Six years after his arrest, Robert Durst takes the stand in L.A. murder trial". Los Angeles Times. California. Retrieved January 23, 2022. The only other witness expected to take the stand on Durst's behalf, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, spent most of Wednesday and Thursday under blistering cross-examination from Lewin.
  54. ^ "The controversial theory at Ghislaine Maxwell's trial". ABC News. December 26, 2021. Retrieved December 27, 2021.
  55. ^ Osborne-Crowley, Lucia (December 26, 2021). "The controversial theory at Ghislaine Maxwell's trial". www.abc.net.au. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  56. ^ "This 'false memory' expert has testified in hundreds of trials. Now she's been hired by Harvey Weinstein". Los Angeles Times. February 6, 2020. Retrieved February 26, 2022.
  57. ^ Goodman, Jane; Loftus, Elizabeth F. (1987–1988). "How to Play to the Jury You Select - In Complex and Other Cases". Criminal Justice. 2: 3. Retrieved February 26, 2022.

External linksEdit