The Science of False Memory – Book Review

The Science of False Memory

By: C.J. Brainerd and V.F.Reyna. Publisher: Oxford University Press USA. Date: 2005.

A decade or so of intensive research on false memory has revealed much that is not well understood outside the circles of scientists who specialize in such research. However, this research has produced findings that have major implications for a number of fields that are central to human welfare, such as medicine and the law. This book has been written to make those findings accessible to a much wider audience than research specialists including child protective services workers, clinical psychologists, defense attorneys, elementary and secondary teachers, general medical practitioners, journalists, judges, nurses, police investigators, prosecutors, and psychiatrists.


“The Science of False Memory is at once comprehensive and “deep.” Brainerd and Reyna have crafted an account of human memory and its foibles that is ensconced in the history of psychology yet is so thoroughly up to date that it can be used in virtually any memory course at any level. It is slam dunk of a book, and I found myself reading far more of it than I had time to read–all because I found the authors’ analysis so compelling and the writing so good.” –Stephen J. Ceci, The Helen L. Carr Professor of Developmental Psychology, Cornell University

“As two who have been in the forefront of the science of false memory, Brainerd and Reyna have culled the massive literature, captured the basic theories, and presented the key issues in a masterful fashion. This is the definitive work on false memories . . . everything you might want to know about them and more.” –Elizabeth F. Loftus, Distinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine, and author of Eyewitness Testimony

“This book is not written only for psychologists studying memory errors, but for police investigators, for lawyers and judges, and for social workers and psychiatrists, among others. There is no other book that provides so complete an overview of the critical issues surrounding the puzzling tendency people have to remember events differently from the way they originally happened or, in the most dramatic cases, to vividly remember events that never happened at all. I highly recommend it.” –Henry L. Roediger, III, James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor, Washington University in St Louis

“False memories are a hot topic in psychological research and a major issue for society. The Science of False Memory provides a compelling scholarly analysis that ranges from laboratory studies to cases in the courtroom. Written by two leaders in the field, this book is must reading for memory researchers, psychologists, and anyone else interested in understanding why people sometimes remember events that never happened.” –Daniel L. Schacter, William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Seven Sins of Memory.

Brainerd and Reyna offer an authoritative overview of contemporary research on ‘errors of commission in memory reports’… The book will interest the authors’ fellow memory researchers, but it will also reward anyone curious as to why people often remember events differently from how they actually happened and why some people have vivid memories of events that never happened.”–Science

“Brainerd and Reyna (both, human development, Cornell Univ.) offer here a comprehensive scholarly treatment of research in false memory. After an excellent chapter on its history, they summarize nine basic paradigms in false memory research and review the major theories…the volume should be useful not only in the academy but also to those involved with law enforcement and the courts…Highly recommended.”–CHOICE


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