Author(s): Elizabeth F Loftus
A total of 490 subjects, in four experiments, saw films of complex, fast-moving events, such as automobile accidents or classroom disruptions. The purpose of these experiments was to investigate how the wording of questions asked immediately after an event may influence responses to questions asked considerably later. It is shown that when the initial question contains either true presuppositions (e.g., it postulates the existence of an object that did exist in the scene) or false presuppositions (e.g.. postulates the existence of an object that did not exist), the likelihood is increased that subjects will later report having seen the presupposed object. The results suggest that questions asked immediately after an event can introduce new — not necessarily correct — information, which is then added to the memorial representation of the event, thereby causing its reconstruction or alteration.