What is a False Memory?

An overview of what constitutes a false memory: including definition, causes, impact, and research, from the verywellmind.com website, by Kendra Sherry, MS, and reviewed by Shaheen Lakhan, MD, PhD, FAAN.


A false memory is a fabricated or distorted recollection of an event. Such memories may be entirely false and imaginary. In other cases, they may contain elements of fact that have been distorted by interfering information or other memory distortions.

Memory Mistakes Are Quite Common

People often think of memory as something like a video recorder, accurately documenting and storing everything that happens with perfect accuracy and clarity. In reality, memory is very prone to fallacy. People can feel completely confident that their memory is accurate, but this confidence is no guarantee that a particular memory is correct.

Examples of this phenomenon can range from the fairly mundane, such as incorrectly recalling that you locked the front door, to the much more serious, such as falsely remembering details of an accident you witnessed.

Learn more about how psychologists define false memories, how these memories form, and the impact that such memories can have.

Definitions of False Memory

How do psychologists define false memory? How do they distinguish it from other forms of memory fallibility? Some common elements of false memory include:

Mental experiences that people believe are accurate representations of past events
Trivial details (believing you put your keys on the table when you got home) to much more serious (believing you saw someone at the scene of a crime)

False memory differs from simple memory errors. While we are all prone to memory fallibility false memory is more than a simple mistake; it involves a level of certitude in the validity of the memory.


To read more please visit: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-a-false-memory-2795193